In the bottom of the ninth inning of a scoreless Long Island Class B softball championship game on the first evening of June, Seaford was threatening after a walk to Gabby Bellamore and some nifty small ball by Jamie Young and Katie Young, who both laid down stellar bunts that gave Center Moriches trouble.
The bases were loaded for sophomore center fielder Kaitlyn Young. Some may have cracked under the pressure, but she was all smiles at the plate. On a 2-1 count Young drilled a fastball to left field and a would-be sacrifice fly dropped in for a single, walking off the game 1-0 for the Vikings and giving them the L.I. title. It's the program's first since 2005.
“My teammates deserved that win so much,” Kaitlyn Young said. “I knew I had to make hard contact or get it in the outfield so that they could at least tag up. Coach Nastasi [Joe] was just telling me to relax. I tend to pull the ball a lot, so he was telling me just to wait on it and to smile and have fun.”
The two girls in the pitchers’ circle, Emma Powell for Center Moriches and Skyler Secondino for Seaford, absolutely dominated on the turf field at Farmingdale State College. Secondino starred, allowing only three hits and striking out 15 in the victory.
“At first I was a little shaken up being in this atmosphere, but I really had to bear down. I knew my team was counting on me and I just had it in my mind that I could do this, that no one could stop me,” Secondino said. “And honestly, that really helped me. My confidence level always helps me. I knew I just needed to play my game.”
Secondino was backed up by fantastic defense from all three Youngs, none of whom are releated, Bellamore, and Alyssa Rodriguez who made a key play at third base in the top of the ninth. She speared a line drive and threw the batter out, killing any Center Moriches momentum. Fundamentals were as vital to the win as Secondino’s pitching.
“I just try to tell them, that's what you’ve trained for,” Nastasi said. “It's usually something pretty simple to be totally honest. How can we simplify, slow the heart rate down? Just be grateful for the opportunity that you have. This is the same game you've been playing since you were little, so nothing changes. We've just got the opportunity to play in this wonderful moment.”
Seaford’s quest for a state championship fell a few steps short last Saturday when it fell to Marlboro Central, 5-0, in the regional title game at Farmingdale State College. It was scoreless until the sixth.
The Vikings (14-11 overall) captured their first Nassau County crown since 2011 on Memorial Day when they rallied to complete a sweep of Carle Place in the best-of-three finals, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh to tie Game 2 and seven runs in the eighth to win it, 11-4.
“We've had some games where we've won by a lot and we've had some close ones,” Nastasi said. “I’ve watched the team fight through adversity and believe in themselves.”