How big was New Hyde Park's softball victory Saturday? How big was it to have sophomore Lisa O'Callaghan outduel Oyster Bay star Kerri Apicella? It was sampler platter big.
The game was the appetizer for the huge celebratory appetizer platter they had afterward. And they had reason to after a 1-0 victory in their Nassau Conference ABC-I/II crossover.
"That's our thing," third baseman Christina Burkey giggled, explaining the team celebrates each win at the neighborhood Applebee's.
In the bottom of the first, Burkey singled up the middle and stole second to set up Katie Morales, who lined a fastball to right and drove in the only run O'Callaghan would need.
On a damp and chilly morning, the bats were made cold. With great location of her riseball and a good fastball-changeup combination, O'Callaghan held the Baymen to two hits and eight strikeouts. Apicella struck out nine and allowed just one hit after the first inning.
"It was good," O'Callaghan said, admittedly shy and short on words.
Her pitching did the talking. She was perfect through three innings and carried a no-hitter into the fifth when Kerri Bongiovani singled to center. What followed were three strikeouts.
"Lisa was amazing," Burkey said. "As she is in all her performances. She's our only pitcher, so she toughs it out every game and does what she has to do."
It's the defense that stumped them earlier in the season, the girls said. Untimely errors have led to unsightly innings for the Gladiators (3-5 ABC-I).
"We've shot ourselves in the foot a lot," said coach Kori Civitillo, whose team reached the second round of the Class A playoffs last season and moved up from Conference II to I. "It's usually one bad inning where we cost ourselves defensively."
This time, it was the defense that bailed them out. With Stephanie Chakiryan at second and Maddie Howes on first for Oyster Bay (4-4 ABC-II), Joshlyn Grant singled to right. Megan Favale fielded the ball quickly and fired a one-hopper to the plate as Chakiryan was halfway home, forcing her to turn back. The catcher, Rosa Russi, then threw a strike to third for the out.
"It was a bad track and I probably should've held her up," Baymen coach Tim Brady said, taking the blame.
This was New Hyde Park's second one-run win in as many games and it believes the tide has turned. "We've been struggling, so it's good to see the hard work paying off," Morales said. "We've been practicing hard."