Trailing Valley Stream South by two runs after four innings last Monday, East Rockaway’s perfect streak against Conference ABC-IV softball foes was in jeopardy.
But as they’ve done all spring, the Lady Rocks caught fire with the bats and found a way into the win column. They exploded for eight runs on seven hits in the top of the fifth, highlighted by freshman Caitlin O’Mara’s two-run homer, on the way to a 13-10 road victory. The Lady Falcons scored four times in their final at-bat and brought the tying run to the plate before a double play turned by senior Jessica Cerasoli ended it.
“We’re doing a great job with the bats,” East Rockaway coach Joe Lores said after his team pounded out 16 hits, scored in double digits for a fourth straight game, and improved to 8-0 in conference play. “We’ve had some really big innings,” he added. “What impressed me today was how we responded to falling behind. We came right back and answered their rally.”
It was Valley Stream South’s fifth game in the last six to be decided by three runs or fewer. Three days after beating Manhasset, 10-8, in eight innings on freshman shortstop Brianna Schippell’s two-run triple, the Lady Falcons (4-4) kept the offense going but couldn’t overcome East Rockaway’s fifth-inning outburst.
“We’re a very young team and we’ve been competitive,” VSS coach Demetri Adrahtas said. “Every game we’ve lost, we’ve had one inning that really hurt. Today it was the fifth.”
Down 2-0 before they came to the plate, the Lady Falcons pulled even in the bottom of the second on a run-scoring single by Schippell (3-for-5) and a bases-loaded walk to senior pitcher Kassie Howley.
The Lady Rocks responded in the top of the third when senior pitcher Gianna Cilluffo and senior center fielder Samantha Mantovani (3-for-4, three RBIs) singled home runs to make it 4-2. South then sent nine batters to the plate in the bottom half of the inning and scored four times on five hits to vault in front, 6-4. All the runs came with two outs. Schippell drove home fellow freshman Katie Shields with a single, a walk to senior Jen Pace brought in sophomore Melanie Morales, and a single by Howley scored sophomore Jen Schoch and Schippell.
Neither team threatened in the fourth, but that wasn’t the case in the fifth. Cilluffo led off by reaching on an error and was on third when Mantovani got the hit parade started with an RBI single. Junior Emily Galligan beat out a bunt for a hit that scored Mantovani and tied it, and senior Dori Gross brought in junior Gina Skelly with the go-ahead run. O’Mara followed senior Dominique Halik’s RBI with a two-run homer to center to make it 10-6. Cerasoli (5-for-5) and senior Jessica Depultski also crossed the plate in the decisive inning.
“We’ve got 10 kids and they’re all contributing,” Lores said.