A walk-off victory in the opening round of the Nassau Class A softball playoffs and a mercy rule win in the quarterfinals was nothing compared to what Mepham accomplished in last week’s semifinals.
The fourth-seeded Lady Pirates pulled off a stunning sweep of two-time reigning county and Long Island champion MacArthur, the No. 1 seed riding a 19-game winning streak, taking the first game of the best-of-three series on May 14, 21-10, and a thrice-delayed Game 2 at home, 4-2, upon its completion last Friday.
“I inherited a lot of talent and the girls have great support for each other,” said first-year coach Brenda Dolan, who served as Jennifer Greco’s assistant last season. “Their energy has been fantastic and I think they always had it in them to get this far.”
Mepham (14-5), which fell 13-2 and 6-4 to MacArthur during regular season, will face second-seeded Carey in the best-of-three championship series at Mitchel Athletic Complex. The Lady Pirates have never won a county title.
“The girls know MacArthur is a great team,” Dolan said. “They were excited after the second regular-season meeting because we were so close.”
The Lady Pirates held a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth of Game 2 when wicked weather rolled into the area on May 15. After waiting through additional rainy forecasts for two more days, things finally resumed and so did Mepham’s momentum. It pushed across an insurance run and junior pitcher Kayla Bourquin (eight wins) did the rest with two scoreless innings to save the win for sophomore Emma Greiner, who was recently called up from JV.
“We’re blessed with six strong pitchers in the program,” Dolan said.
The opening game of the semis was as wild as the score suggested. MacArthur led 6-5 when Mepham exploded for 10 runs in the top of the fourth to take command. Eighth-grader Alanna Morse and sophomore Jenna Giliberti homered.
“They all have the same mentality when it comes to hitting and I think we’re strong from 1 through 9,” Dolan said.
The Lady Pirtates began the playoffs squeezing out a 7-6 win over No. 13 Wantagh on May 9. After the Lady Warriors stayed alive with two runs in the top of the seventh to tie it on a two-out homer off the bat of Nalani O’Brien, Mepham answered. Sophomore Brianna Morse opened the bottom of the inning with a single, stole second, advanced to third on senior Kerri Donlon’s hit and touched home with the winning run on a sacrifice fly by senior Keri Castaldo.
Two days later, just like it did against MacArthur in Game 1, Dolan’s team came out swinging against fifth-seeded Island Trees. It plated three runs in each of the first two innings on the way to an easy 12-0 victory. Mepham scored in every inning, led by table setters Giliberti (3-for-4, three runs) and sophomore Stefanie Simone (two RBIs, two runs) at the top. Senior Kelsey Vandewater added to the early outburst with a two-run double. Freshman Kayleigh Roth pitched the first three innings, then Greiner and Bourquin finished off the shutout.