It was another banner year on the softball diamond for the girls at East Rockaway. The Rocks shared the Nassau Conference ABC-III title with South Side, won the Nassau small schools championship, and claimed Long Island supremacy for the third consecutive year and seventh time in program history.
The stellar season came to a halt when the Rocks fell to Pine Plains (Dutchess County) 6-2 in the NYS southeast regional final last Saturday afternoon at Hofstra. It was the second straight season that the Bombers kept East Rockaway from advancing to the state semifinals.
After falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first, the Rocks evened things up with runs in the first and second innings. But, Pine Plains used a combination of timely hitting and terrific execution of its small ball attack to plate single runs in four consecutive innings.
Pine Plains, which lost in the state championship game in 2017, will meet Sandy Creek in the semifinal round. East Rockaway was held to just four hits in the game. The Rocks finished with an overall record of 18-5.
“It’s never fun when it comes to an end, but every year there’s only one team that’s happy at the end of the playoffs,” coach Joe Lores said. “We weren’t very consistent with the bats all season long, so we had to scratch out runs. But, we had solid pitching and catching and defended well, so we didn’t give up a ton of runs.”
The Rocks had a seemingly easy time in their Long Island title game. Junior Emily Chelius was dominant, striking out 12 batters and limiting Mercy to just two hits in a 10-0 rout. Chelius, who earned All-County honors and led the team in all offensive categories, was 3-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored. Freshman Emma Pollackov had two RBI and scored a pair of runs.
Prior to the matchup with Mercy, the Rocks captured the small schools title by coming back from three runs down to beat Oyster Bay 5-3. Sophomore Hunter Vertuccio had two hits, an RBI, and two runs scored. Pollackov went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI. Chelius, who is nearing the program’s all-time career strikeout mark, fanned 11 batters to earn the victory.
The Rocks will move up to Class B in 2019. They lose just one starter in senior Sarah Donnelly, who earned All-Scholastic honors. Junior catcher Siobhan Perini had a remarkable year behind the plate and in the batter’s box, hitting nearly .400 while earning All-County recognition. Vertuccio and fellow sophomore Skylar Gomes were All-Conference recipients.
“If you told me before the season that we’d return to the regional final, I would have signed up for it,” Lores said. “Not many teams get to this point. We have a lot of girls coming back. Hopefully, they’ll put in the extra time to work on things that they need to improve upon, and make us a tough out again next season.”