It’s difficult to stand out when you’re only 4-11, as is the case for East Islip’s Allison Dell’Orto.
The sophomore rightfielder is towered over by taller (and older) softball teammates such as 5-8 senior pitcher Courtney Greene and 5-10 senior shortstop Jackie Carty.
However, a new position in the batting order, and a switch to a new bat, has helped Dell’Orto grow in stature recently.
Dell’Orto celebrated her 16th birthday Saturday with a sweet 3-for-3 effort from the leadoff spot with a stolen base, two doubles and three runs scored to guide top-seeded East Islip to an 8-2 home victory in a Suffolk AA winners’ bracket semifinal against defending champ and No. 5 Commack.
It was a rematch of last season’s Class AA final that Commack won, 6-1, on May 28. The Redmen (21-1) host the winner of No. 3 Deer Park and No. 7 Whitman at 4 p.m. Monday.
East Islip has outscored its playoff opponents, 38-2, in three postseason games. The production coincides with a move made by EI coach Jason McGowan just before the playoffs began. Dell’Orto, who was the No. 2 hitter all season, was flip-flopped with former leadoff hitter Alise Colandro.
“I try to work the count more as a leadoff hitter,” said Dell’Orto, who also competes as a gymnast for EI. “We have such a solid lineup one through nine.”
Indeed. Seven of the nine East Islip batters had either a hit, a run scored or an RBI.
“We all came into this game really excited, because last year they brought us down,” said Dell’Orto, who started in last season’s county final as a freshman. “But today we wanted it bad.”
Carty, who threw out a runner at the plate to end the top of the first inning, knocked in Dell’Orto with a single to centerfield in the bottom half of the inning.
East Islip broke things open with a four-run third inning, highlighted by RBI singles from Colandro and Katie Burk, an RBI triple by Lauren Crawford and a sacrifice fly by Greene. The Redmen added three more runs in the fourth. Carty’s two-run double and an RBI groundout from Greene (who earned her 17th win of the season with nine strikeouts) made it 8-0.
Dell’Orto finally went to a new, longer bat last week after having issues with her regular-season bat, because: “It kept breaking,” Dell’Orto said, laughing.
She named her new stick: “Cody.” Whatever the reason, “Cody” and Dell’Orto have the Redmen rolling.
“She definitely brings us some energy at the top of the lineup,” said Carty, who was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
Ariana Arato, Emily Fox and Kelly McKenna had two hits apiece for Commack (17-5), which scored twice in the fifth inning, but couldn’t get to Greene late. It faces the loser of Deer Park vs. Whitman at 4 p.m. Tuesday in an elimination game.
Meanwhile, the Redmen are just two wins away from their first county title since 2012, McGowan’s first season at EI.
“We have our goal,” Dell’Orto said. “We have to keep our positive attitude . . . We have such a unique relationship. Our team is like a family.”