Four-run outbursts in the bottom of the first and fourth innings and strong pitching by senior Tonimarie Valeriano last Friday afternoon propelled Mepham to a 9-1 softball victory over visiting Long Beach in a Conference AA-I/II crossover game.
Valeriano allowed only two hits, walked one and struck out 15 as the Lady Pirates upped their win streak to four games following three losses to begin conference play. Freshman Sam Arcese knocked in three runs, while senior leadoff batter senior Christine Rizzacasa singled, doubled and tripled and scored twice. Junior Rachel Brenner drove in the lone run for the Lady Marines (3-5) with a single in the fourth.
“We’re scoring more runs lately and Toni’s pitching really well,” Mepham coach Mike Muscara said. “I’ve always said we’re a warm-weather team.”
The Lady Pirates (6-3) came out swinging against Long Beach senior pitcher Heather Weinstein and found gaps. Rizzacasa led off the game with a double to left-center and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Valeriano (3-for-4) then hit a blast that one-hopped the fence in left for a run-scoring double. Nicole Aliberti singled home Valeriano, and took third on senior Amanda Fucci’s double. Arcese capped the early rally by doubling home Aliberti and Fucci.
The hosts tacked on a run in the second when Valeriano’s sac fly plated junior Alexa Morris, who went 2-for-3, and were leading 5-1 when they came to bat in the fourth. Mepham, which has outscored its last four opponents by a combined 24-3 margin, would send 10 batters to the plate and increased its lead to 9-1. Rizzacasa tripled home Morris and scored on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by junior Katie Grodski. Fucci and Arcese added RBIs in the inning.