It took nine players to make a saying and nine players to win a Long Island softball championship.
Center Moriches put its “Nine Strong” motto into action and built a 10-0 lead with runs scored by eight players in five different innings and earned the Class B title with a 10-0 win over Oyster Bay on Thursday at Hofstra. A ninth player, Caroline Casey, drove in two runs. The game also doubled as the Southeast Regional semifinal
“It’s really important for everyone to contribute,” Casey said. “We have nine players and everyone needs to put their own work in just to get the game done.”
Cierra Smith reached third on an error to lead off the game and Alexa Andersen hit a sacrifice fly. Kayla Hojber followed with a triple and came home on a fielder’s choice by Casey. Center Moriches took the field with a 2-0 lead, and Smith said she was anxious about making an impact early as the away team.
“I set the tone for the game and I’m so happy that the rest of my team followed behind me,” said Smith, who scored twice and had an RBI double in the fifth.
The Red Devils followed up with four more runs in the second, and Megan Ricci said a scoreless third showed the team’s resilience.
“It was important,” she said, “especially when we hit that one inning where we didn’t score any runs and then to come back again and keep our heads up and keep going.”
Hujber went 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Kylie Castellano earned the win, striking out three and giving up four hits.
Emily Moore went 2-for-3 with a double for Oyster Bay.
Center Moriches (23-1) entered last year’s playoffs undefeated and lost in the Suffolk final. This season brought an earlier loss, which players said helped take off the pressure.
“This year we were like, ‘There’s four core seniors, we just want to do this and win, and who cares if we lose during the regular season?’ ” Casey said.
The experience has paid off, and the Red Devils are one step closer to playing for a state championship. They head to Rhinebeck to face Marlboro Central in the regional final at 2 p.m. Saturday.
“I have complete faith in my team and I trust every one of these girls,” Smith said.