Whether it’s with the stroke of her bat or her paintbrush, the result for Darby Pandolfo is often a masterpiece.
“If I’m not playing softball, I’m doing some sort of art that takes up a serious amount of time,” Pandolfo said. “Art couldn’t be more opposite from softball.”
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Yet as a Division I-caliber catcher and an AP art student, she excels at both.
With a picture-perfect swing Monday, Pandolfo drilled a two-out triple to score the tying and go-ahead runs in the sixth inning of Massapequa’s 6-4 win over East Meadow in Nassau Conference AA-I.
With the Chiefs trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Alexa Kanceler and Jenna DeFina each drew a two-out walk to bring Pandolfo to the plate. She drilled the first pitch the opposite way, hitting it off the wall in rightfield.
“She’d been pounding the outside all day and I knew she was going to keep it there,” said Pandolfo, who is bound for Seton Hall University. “I knew I had to go with it and drive in the runs.”
Kelle Lalier went 2-for-4, including an RBI single that increased the lead to 6-4. Addie Jackson, who tossed a complete game, then induced three first-pitch outs in the seventh to close out the game for Massapequa (10-2).
“I just focused on keeping it low in the zone,” Jackson said. “I tried to throw off the batters as much as I could to try to get an easy out.”
Christina Loeffler and Jenna Laird each went 2-for-4 for East Meadow (9-2). Loeffler’s RBI single evened the score at 3 in the top of the fifth. Gianna Azzato’s bloop single gave the Jets a 4-3 lead in the sixth. That set the stage for Massapequa’s comeback in the bottom of the inning.
“We’re able to get two-out hits, find holes and move each other around,” Lalier said. “We’ll do whatever it takes to be successful.”
A big part of the Chiefs’ success has been Pandolfo. Defensively, her tools blend perfectly together like colors on a canvas. Her strong arm and quick release have completely shut down running games. Her demeanor has been a calming influence for Massapequa’s two young pitchers. Her understanding of game situations has enabled her to call pitches this season.
And she’s just as good at blocking balls at home as she is at painting pictures for the wall at home.
“Last year we had a team picture of all of our hands in the air,” Pandolfo said. “I got the photo of that and drew it in black and white, all in pencil. It’s hanging in my living room. That’s definitely my favorite one.”
Like her swing, it’s a work of art.