The Commack softball team hasn’t played a home game the entire postseason and has become plenty accustomed to taking a seat on the bus.
But Commack wasn’t going to settle for being passengers. The players and coaches wanted to be in control, and they coined the mantra of “Drive the Bus.” And they haven’t taken their final bus trip yet.
After losing in the winner’s bracket semifinals May 24, Commack has won five games over the last five days, culminating with a 5-2 victory over Longwood to earn the Suffolk Class AA championship Sunday afternoon at the Eastport South Manor Athletic Complex.
“It’s actually been pretty special,” outfielder Alexa Berry said. “We’ve been playing five straight and the adrenaline has carried from one game into the other. The bus rides home are actually where it started. Every game we look forward to the bus ride home to celebrate our win.”
No. 10 Commack’s next trip comes against East Meadow in the Long Island Class AA championship/Southeast Regional Final Friday at 7 p.m. at the Eastport South Manor Athletic Complex.
And if there had to be one person to declare the unofficial bus driver, it’s Emmi Katz, who started every game in the postseason and appeared in every inning of Commack’s five victories this week. She scattered five hits with one walk and one strikeout in the complete game Sunday.
“Honestly my body is a little weak, I haven’t done it in a while,” Katz said. “It’s one of those things where if you build up the stamina to do it, it’s easier to do and a lot of pitchers on the Island do that.”
No. 8 Longwood (16-7) had RBI singles from Angie Oquendo and Danielle Wenzek in the second inning before Katz shut the Lions out for the remainder of the game.
“She’s super reliant,” coach Harold Cooley III said. “When you have to pitch every single day, it’s not easy. It’s very little rest. It takes a toll on your body. Not only has she been recovering and recuperating very well, but she’s been able to perform under the highest pressure possible.”
Commack (20-7) took a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning on Alexa Berry’s two-run single, followed by Jessica Hanley’s RBI single taking a 4-2 advantage.
“There was a thought that went through me that I thought I actually hit it over,” Berry said, “but then it hit the fence and I just knew I did my job.”
Kellie Gentile added two RBI singles in the win.
“I have the same approach in all my at-bats, whether it’s the county championship or a regular league game,” Gentile said. “I just know I have to get the job done when there’s people on base.”
And even though Commack was upset over its seeding entering the postseason, the players used it as motivation throughout their run for the program’s first county title since 2016.
“We definitely came into the playoffs with a chip on our shoulder,” Katz said. “We came in like ‘This isn’t the seed we wanted, this isn’t the seed that we deserve’ and we came in and we’re like ‘We’re going to win it all.’”