East Rockaway softball coach Joe Lores said the Rocks couldn’t have made it to the Long Island Class C championship without the freshman arm of Emily Chelius.
On Thursday, she pitched the way Lores has come to expect. The ninth-grader fired a complete game with seven strikeouts against Suffolk Class C champion Pierson/Bridgehampton in a 21-4 win at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.
“Since she’s been an eighth- grader pitching on varsity, I’ve always said she has the poise of a senior,” Lores said. “It’s what she does. It’s who she is.”
Chelius indeed showed the poise of an upperclassman, tossing three 1-2-3 innings and walking only two batters.
“I don’t usually get nervous because I think about my catcher and team behind me,” she said. “If I just throw it, they’ll make the plays.”
Chelius also went 3-for-5 with four RBIs, all of which came in her two at-bats in the fifth.
The Rocks gave Chelius a cushion when they scored twice in the third inning and batted around in an eight-run fourth.
At the heart of the offense was No. 2 hitter Erica Acampora, who went 3-for-6 with a fifth-inning home run to leftfield. She stole a base, drove in two runs and scored four times.
“After a couple times up there, you see her pitches and get used to it, and I just made contact with the ball,” Acampora said.
“You could just feel it right away. Once I hit that ball, I just knew it was gone.”
Caitlin O’Marra went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Diana Lacuteta drew three walks and scored each time she was on base.
The offense’s production was enough to let Chelius go to work on the mound. She was able to hit her spots with each of her three pitches — a fastball, changeup and riseball — and said she can hit her catcher’s mitt wherever it’s set.
The Rocks will play Section I winner North Salem at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Hofstra University in the regional round of the state championships.
“Every team we play is a champion right now,” Lores said. “You just have to come out and bring your best.”