Hats off to Brianna Pinto . . . and hats on because of Brianna Pinto.
The junior shortstop made a statement with her bat and her speed yesterday, going 3-for-5 with a two-run homer, a two-run single and two stolen bases to lead Carey to a 10-0 win over Island Trees in Conference ABC-I.
She has also made a fashion statement this season, simply by wearing a hat during games.
“She had one and we all liked it,” teammate Sam Romanello said. “So we all ordered the same one as her.”
Unlike in baseball, wearing hats in the field in softball is somewhat uncommon. Yet every position player on Carey wore the Pinto-inspired solid black hats in the field yesterday for the first time.
“It worked out well today,” Pinto said. “So we’ll stick with it from here on out.”
Most of Pinto’s damage, though, was done when her hat was off and her helmet was on.
With the game scoreless in the top of the fourth inning, Olivia Krevatas lifted a two-out fly ball to leftfield that was dropped, allowing a run to score. Marissa Nicoletti followed with an infield single to put runners at the corners. Pinto then singled to the gap in right-center to knock in two runs. That sparked an eight-run inning that was capped by Romanello’s two-run homer to left.
In Pinto’s next at-bat in the fifth, she crushed a home run over the fence in center to increase the lead to 10-0.
“The first two pitches I took my eyes off the ball,” she said. “So going into that pitch I really had to keep my eyes on it and be patient. So I saw it coming and my eyes lit up.”
Amanda Ulzheimer went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk.
Rebecca Vilchez tossed a two-hit shutout, allowing singles to Kim Basile and Gabby Scharff, and struck out 10. Vilchez has taken over in the circle full-time for the Seahawks, which advanced to the county championship series last season, and allowed just four runs in seven games this season.
“It’s definitely a challenge, definitely different,” she said. “But it’s nice to be one of the older players and to be a good role model and leader.”
Just as Pinto is with a bat in her hands and hat on her head. It’s difficult to prepare for the combination of her speed and power because if the infield plays at regular depth, she bunts her way on. If they play in, she hits it over them. Or over the fence.
“The opposing team,” she said, “doesn’t really know where to play me.”
They can only tip their hats.