In the sixth and final inning of the varsity softball team’s 16-1 Tuesday rout of Falmouth, one visiting Clipper stands at the plate trying to break down sophomore Vineyard pitcher Hailee McCarthy. The possibility seems unlikely — Hailee has allowed just four hits and two walks in this game, and has gone two for four in her own plate appearances — but the opposition fouls off the ball again and again, pushing the count to 3-2.
Senior outfielder Crystal Miske, wearing sunglasses despite the thick fog blanketing the field, leads the calls of encouragement from Hailee’s teammates. Hailee deliberates, then rockets off a pitch that zips straight across the plate into the glove of senior catcher Emily Williston. Strike three.
While the core of the 2011 squad is undoubtedly the six seniors making their last appearances on the diamond, its future lies with the four sophomores who made the team this year, in particular the two newest pitchers, Hailee and classmate Emily Cimeno (Micheli Lynn and Kendall Robinson round out the up-and-comers). Much more so than in baseball, softball is a pitcher’s game, and the hurler on the mound can — and often does — make or break a team’s season record.
“It’s harder than you think,” said Emily in a post-practice interview with the Gazette. Emily is a softball multi-tasker; during the Falmouth game she put on an infielder’s glove to cover second base; in her first pitching start earlier this month, she held her opponents to four hits while batting .500. She’s not sure if being a pitcher helps with batting, although she concedes that “you might know the strike zone a little better.” Like Hailee, she throws fastballs and changeups, but has yet to master the riseball and dropball.
Both girls began playing softball in elementary school, and have been pitchers since seventh grade (there is a brief pause and an overwhelmed “Oh, God” from Emily as the two try to hammer down the exact timeline). The jump to varsity from JV was, according to both, nowhere near as challenging as the leap from eighth grade to high school ball, although playing at the higher level “seems more exciting,” said Hailee.
They are still visited by their old JV coach to work on specific pitching skills, since, in spite of the plethora of upperclassmen on the team, there are no older pitchers to offer advice. Being on the varsity squad, however, means reuniting with previous teammates — Emily, Emma Forbes, Alicia Oliveira and Molly Ciciora all played together while in elementary school.
The season has presented some hurdles in the forms of eagle-eyed Eastern Athletic Conference batters — Hailee took a 15-1 loss to Somerset, while Emily was roughed up in a 19-4 loss to Bishop Stang — but with 15 games left on the schedule, the pitchers have plenty of opportunities left to fully establish themselves. And while one would assume earning a win to be a highlight of the pitching job, the girls make no mention of this when discussing their favorite aspects of the game.
“When you strike somebody out, it’s a really good feeling,” offered Emily.
Hailee, meanwhile, can’t decide on just one part of the game.
“I like it all,” she said.
In a week described as “the best of times and the worst of times,” by head coach Donald Herman, the girls took a mercy-rule 16-1 victory over Falmouth Tuesday before falling to Bishop Stang the next day 19-4.
Senior Crystal Miske went three for four with three RBIs during Tuesday’s game, while Alicia Oliveira hit a perfect three for three and drove in two runs. Micheli Lynn was two for two in Wednesday’s loss, while Crystal Miske, Emma Forbes, Emily Cimeno and Molly Ciciora had one hit each.
The girls play a doubleheader at home against Manchester on Saturday, and will take on Chatham at home at 3 p.m. on Monday. The team is now 3-2.
Playing their first home match of the season, the varsity girls took down Cape Cod Academy 4-1 on Tuesday afternoon. Singles players Annie Burton, Dylan Brockmeyer and Alyssa Adler dismissed each of their opponents in straight sets, winning 6-2, 6-4; 6-2,6-2; and 6-3, 6-4, respectively.
At first doubles, Julia Cooper and Annabelle Hackney rallied from a first-set defeat to gain the upper hand and win 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. Senior captain Cammie Fernandez, playing in the stead of Celia Mercier, and partner Michaela Gaines fell 2-6, 4-6 to CCA.
The girls are 2-1 on the season and next take on Westport in a Friday away match before playing at home against EAC opponent Somerset on Saturday.
The Vineyarders met their first serious challenge of the season on Tuesday, facing an undefeated Cape Cod Academy squad in Osterville. Despite strong play from both sides, CCA emerged the victor 3-2, handing the boys their first loss of the season.
At number two singles, sophomore Kent Leonard rallied from a 3-6 first-set loss to even the match with a 6-4 second set, winning four games in a row to come back from an initial 2-4 deficit. Kent then pushed opponent Will White to his limit in the final set, with Will withdrawing due to leg cramping while down 4-3.
In the number three singles spot, sophomore Justice Yennie dispatched Sam Lahner 6-3, 6-2.
The team remains undefeated in the EAC, and is now 5-1. They will play Westport at home on Friday.
With their 19-10 defeat of Bishop Feehan Tuesday afternoon, the girls continue to make a powerful first impression within the EAC.
The team looked strong on both ends of the field, with junior goalie April Hargy making eight saves, backed up by the defensive play of Niki Alexander, Texe Craig, Shelby Ferry, Hannah Moore and Paige Nitardy. Madison Hughes and Cat Todd led the scoring, with five and four goals scored, respectively.
The girls have three home games this week, first playing Wayland at 11 a.m. Saturday before taking on Coyle Cassidy on Tuesday at 3 p.m. and Bourne at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
Track and Field
The track squads battled Bishop Stang on Tuesday in their first EAC meets of the season, keeping pace with the visiting Spartans until the final events of the day.
The boys’ team lost by just four points (70-66), while the girls were 10 points behind their opponents (73-63).
Madeleine Penicaud had a standout meet, outpacing her Bishop Stang opponent by just over a second in both the 400-metre hurdles and the 200-metre dash to earn two of her first place finishes (the other coming in long jump). Madeleine also came in third in the triple jump, while Maggie Lindland took first in the event. Maggie ran to a second-place finish in both the 100-metre dash and high jump.
Sidra Dumont, Maggie Riseborough, and Kaija Nivala swept the discus, with Sidra and Maggie also placing first and third in shot put. Jessie Chandler prevented a Stang sweep in the javelin with a third-place throw of 74 inches.
In the distance events, Lily Neville, Shivonne Schofield, and Megan McHugh turned in second-place finishes in the mile, two-mile and 800-metre runs, respectively.
Maya Harcourt and Kaija Nivala finished the 100-metre hurdles within a hairsbreadth of one another, taking first and third with times of 18.4 and 19.5.
On the boys’ side, the 800-metre produced the closest race, with Jeremy Alley-Tarter winning in 2:06, his Bishop Stang opponent a ninth of a second behind him. Michael (Boots) Osborn crossed the finish for third with a time of 2:08.
Mikey Schroeder was the lone Vineyarder in the mile and two-mile, running a 4:55 for the win in the former and taking second in the latter.
The 4x100-metre relay team — Randall Jette, Jacob Lawrence, Brian Montambault and Anthony Piland — took first, with each of its members placing in at least one other event. Anthony took second in the 200-metre run and first in javelin with a 142-foot, 9-inch throw, while Jacob placed second behind Randall in the high jump. Randall also took first in long jump, and 100-metre dash.
Brian placed third in a tight shot put competition with a 35-foot, 5-inch throw, which saw Tyler Araujo take first with a 37-foot, 10-inch throw. Tyler was second in discus.
Rafael Maciel placed second in both triple jump and the 400-metre hurdles, barely missing the win in the latter. Sam Oslyn finished third in the event, while Will Dietz took third in the hurdleless 400-metres.
Track has a busy week scheduled, competing at Bishop Fenwick in the Massachusetts division four relays before returning for a dual meet against Bishop Feehan at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The team will face Somerset in an away meet on Thursday.
Boys’ Lacrosse, Baseball
The boys’ lacrosse team plays at home Saturday against Westport at 1 p.m. before going off-Island for next week’s games against Coyle Cassidy and Bishop Stang.
The baseball team will be on home turf today at 3 p.m. for a game against New England Christian Academy, and take on Somerset at home Wednesday at 3:15 p.m.