Center Moriches entered this softball season with one thought: win a county championship. After losing to League VI rival Babylon twice in the regular season, it was evident who was standing in their way.
The Red Devils (18-5) combined stellar pitching by Erin Cunningham with disciplined, small-ball offense to defeat Babylon, 6-1, in the Suffolk Class B championship Thursday at Eastport-South Manor Sports Complex. It was the second time in the double-elimination playoff that the Red Devils beat Babylon (19-2).
"In the beginning of the season we all knew we wanted to achieve something bigger than just winning the league title,” said Madison Hujber, who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs. “We kept building after every single game, and with each game we got more excited about what else could come.”
After reaching on an error to lead off the game, Anna Connolly stole second and third base and scored on Hujber’s sacrifice bunt for a 1-0 lead. Babylon’s Alexa Tenety answered in the second with a solo home run to leftfield, but Cunningham would allow just three hits the rest of the way.
“Erin was on today, and when she’s on, she’s lights out,” coach Rich Roberts said. “She mixed her pitches up great and had an excellent command of the strike zone.”
Added Cunningham: “I was focused. I wasn’t thinking about what would happen if we lose, I just threw.”
Kylee Hall scored the go-ahead run in the third when Hujber lined a base hit past the Babylon outfield. After adding a run in the fourth on Grace Castiglione’s single, Emma Powell hit an RBI triple in the fifth and scored on Kaylie Roberts' bunt single to put Center Moriches ahead 5-1.
The Red Devils bunted three times, with all three resulting in runs. After struggling with the bunt in midseason, they put in extra time to perfect the craft for the playoff stretch.
It’s the little things that can make the difference for a county champion.