Mepham came painfully close last spring — a couple of runs, to be exact — to capturing its first-ever Nassau County softball title.
This year, there was no denying its bid to make history.
Led by their four-headed pitching monster, stellar defense and a balanced hitting attack, the top-seeded Lady Pirates completed a sweep of No. 3 Division in the best-of-three Class A championship series last Friday night with a 10-2 victory at Hofstra.
The game was suspended by heavy rainfall 24 hours earlier with two outs in the top of the seventh inning after Mepham (21-2) padded its lead with three more insurance runs. Sophomore Dominique DeLutri’s pinch-hit, three-run triple in the sixth broke it open.
“None of us slept well last night [Thursday] and it was hard getting through the day at school,” senior catcher Jessie Lanzisera said. “We just wanted to get back on the field. It’s a great feeling, especially after how last season ended. We have so much talent and we weren’t going to settle for just getting to the finals this time.”
Junior Brianna Morse drove in three runs, while junior leadoff batter Stefanie Simone and freshmen Hailey Guerrero and Gianna LaSpina all scored twice in the clincher. LaSpina homered and drove in three runs in a 6-2 win in the series opener May 29.
“Anyone and everyone we call upon can do the job,” second-year coach Brenda Dolan said. “It’s such a special group of girls. Whether we need someone for one at-bat or to pitch one inning, they’re ready.”
Dolan stuck with an unusual yet highly effective pitching approach in the playoffs after Mepham finished atop a challenging Conference A-I. In both games against Division (15-10), sophomore Kayleigh Roth started and went the first two innings, followed by juniors Sydney LaMagra and Emma Greiner for two innings apiece, and finally senior Kayla Bourquin in the seventh.
“It was a little weird at the beginning, but everyone got used to it and it definitely works for us,” Lanzisera said. “We have four great pitchers.”
Dolan wouldn’t commit to a pitching order for this Friday’s Long Island Class A championship game against Sayville at 4 p.m. at the Eastport Athletic Complex in Manorville. “We’ll enjoy this for a while and figure it out,” she said.
Roth was staked to a 2-0 cushion in Game 2 when junior Jenna Giliberti doubled home Simone and scored on a Morse sacrifice fly in the top of the first. Guerrero and Morse had run-producing hits in the third and LaMagra stepped into the circle in the bottom of the frame with a 4-1 lead.
Division cut the margin to 4-2 in the fourth but managed just one baserunner over the last three innings. Greiner got six groundball outs, including three to Morse at second base.
Mepham loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth when Dolan summoned DeLutri off the bench and into the batter’s box. On a 2-2 pitch, DeLutri delivered a bases-clearing double just inside the right-field line and the lead swelled to five. “Dominique had been struggling a little bit, but I’ve got confidence in everyone who wears this uniform,” Dolan said.
The Lady Pirates overcame an early two-run deficit to win Game 1, 6-2. They scored three times in the bottom of the third and took the lead for good on freshman Alanna Morse’s sac fly. LaSpina homered in the second, had an RBI single in the third and a run-scoring double in the fifth.
“Our bats connected in both games,” Dolan said. “That’s always a bonus for us because defense and pitching is our strength.”