Sayville's Selts helps young mates come together for state title

Sayville's Merissa Selts delivers to the plate in

Sayville's Merissa Selts delivers to the plate in the Class A final against Plainedge. (June 5, 2012) (Credit: James Escher)

Sayville's whimsical run through the postseason appeared to have reached an unfortunate, anti-climatic end.

A line drive off the bat of Jamesville-Dewitt's Mary Young scraped the right pitching hand of Merissa Selts. Tied at 3 with two outs in the top of the fifth of the state Class A softball final on June 9, the senior ace with four postseason shutouts was forced to leave the game.

"I saw that my hand was bleeding, and I was just going to try and hide it, but then I saw it was bleeding pretty bad," Selts said. "So they told me I had to come out, and when I came out, it started hurting real bad."

Kathleen Maehr came on in relief and gave up a go-ahead, RBI single to the first batter she faced. Jamesville-Dewitt took a 4-3 lead heading to the bottom of the fifth and the Golden Flashes' season was down to nine outs.

Seldom-used Kerry Keenan, in the game because of the injury to Selts, hit an RBI double to tie the score. Cindy Griffin put Sayville ahead on a fielder's choice, and then it was up to Maehr to secure the first state title in program history.

Maehr, unflappable under pressure, induced six consecutive ground ball outs to end the game.

"She had no time to think about what was going on in that situation," Golden Flashes coach Tiffany Rowan said of Maehr. "She just wanted to pick up her teammate and step up."

Added Maehr: "I just had to throw like I normally do. It was just a different venue."

The state tournament only extended the remarkable late-season magic of Selts, who started every postseason game for Sayville. She tossed a three-hitter in a state semifinal win over Cornwall and had a one-hitter working into the fifth inning against Jamesville-Dewitt.

Selts' postseason capped off a varsity career that began in the eighth grade. Rowan remembered calling Selts into her office for informal chats, a way to relieve the stress of being a young varsity callup. Assistant coach Jill Iorio, a senior during Selts' first year on varsity, played the role of mentor.

"She was mature for her age," Rowan said. "But it's tough being pulled up. Kids that you play with can get jealous and say mean things. Jill definitely took Merissa under her wing, and Merissa had nothing to worry about."

Four years later, Selts embraced the role once occupied by Iorio. She led a group of youngsters that included freshman centerfielder Jessica Griffin, who made her mark with a game-saving catch in the Long Island championship against Plainedge. Freshman catcher Olivia Kaczmarek -- who, like Jessica Griffin, was called up to varsity as an eighth-grader -- added two hits and an RBI at states.

Senior third baseman Kira Karl had an RBI single in the state semifinal and went 11-for-11 on fielding opportunities at states. Junior shortstop Emily Sellitti scored the championship-tying run and defensively had a hand in the last two outs of the championship.

A team effort. A season to remember.

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