The only glimpse of struggle on the face of Eastport-South Manor’s Marissa Rizzi came when it was time to fold the American flag Wednesday.
Two years ago, Rizzi, now a senior, and Hope Brenkert went to the pole behind the centerfield fence and folded the flag together. When Brenkert graduated last year, she said Rizzi had to do it by herself. But similar to the illusion that a pitcher is by herself in the circle, there’s always someone ready to assist.
Latest HS sports stories
“Whoever really wants to help me, they’ll help me,” Rizzi said.
This time it was her twin, Christina, coming to her aid. The catcher held the flag while Marissa folded it following her two-hitter in Eastport-South Manor’s 1-0 home victory over East Islip in Suffolk IV softball.
Rizzi had seven strikeouts, and only one runner reached second base. East Islip’s Courtney Greene allowed one run and four hits and struck out nine, including six looking.
“It’s always a challenge, I love playing this team,” Greene said of facing Rizzi. “She’s always a motivation to hit off and she’s definitely one to go after.”
But those 1-0 games call for increased concentration and add extra difficulty for a pitcher.
“It is stressful,” Rizzi said. “Confident through the whole thing because I know [my defense] will back me up when I feel like I have control. Then usually toward the last inning, you have to push out that last little bit because that’s usually when the teams will come back and fight. So I’m just like ‘Can’t miss your spots. Have to keep the ball low.’ ”
And who would know better than her catcher/twin?
“Her pitches hit their spots more often, she’s very focused on it, so it’s very consistent,” Christina said. “With the tight games, I feel her pitching is better than when we have room.”
Deanna Colondona, who was hit by a pitch, scored in the third inning on Kailah Konkel’s groundout to the mound. Eastport-South Manor is 5-0, and East Islip fell to 4-2.
Eastport-South Manor’s defense was stellar throughout the game, starting with rightfielder Colondona’s impressive catch battling the wind to start a double play in the second. Christina Rizzi also threw out a runner stealing in the fifth.
“The centerfielder and my team were kind of directing me with the wind, but yeah, it was tough,” Colondona said. “I don’t usually get a lot of balls hit to rightfield.”