One minute, Kelly Fitzpatrick was kicking herself for booting a bouncer that allowed the game's first run to score in the bottom of the sixth. "I felt like I'd let everyone down," the Rocky Point first baseman said.
Minutes later, Fitzpatrick was kicking up her heels in delight, having redeemed herself -- big time -- with a two-run homer over the rightfield fence that propelled Rocky Point to a 2-1 victory over Islip Tuesday in a Suffolk League IV softball game at Wing Elementary School in Islip.
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"The sun was hard to work with all day and I took my eye off the ball for a split second," Fitzpatrick said of her error on a ball chopped by Taylor Larson that allowed Vanessa Juengerkes, who had led off the inning with a bloop double, to score. "When we came up, I was looking to pick everyone up."
Winning pitcher Annie Kennedy (eight strikeouts, no walks, three hits) led off the top of the seventh with a sharp single to right, taking a riser from Juengerkes the other way. Fitzpatrick did the same thing, but drove it a lot farther. "She was throwing a lot of pitches on the outside," Fitzpatrick said of Juengerkes, who struck out eight without walking a batter. "I wasn't sure it was going out, but when I see it go over the fence, it was a great feeling."
The victory improved Rocky Point to 15-3 and sets up Wednesday's showdown at Sayville, also 15-3, in a game that likely will decide the League IV championship. Islip is playoff bound at 12-6.
Kennedy never put two runners on in any inning and kept Islip off balance with a dizzying assortment of pitches. "My screwball and curve drop were working," Kennedy said. "I worked inside-out. You have to have a strong mind-set in a game like that."
An accomplished hitter, as well, Kennedy bats cleanup and was determined to help herself when she led off the seventh. "I really wanted to get on for the big hitters behind me."
When Fitzpatrick's drive soared over the fence, Kennedy said: "I went crazy. I almost forgot I still had to run around the bases."
But she was composed when she went out for the bottom of the seventh, inducing a pop fly and two strikeouts to end the game with an exclamation point.
"Her screwball was like a train bearing in [on] the hitters and handcuffing people," Rocky Point coach Ron Kenehan said. "Annie had her A game."