In a sense, Lindsay McKillop isn't too different from Jim Carrey's character in "The Mask." Without it, she's a soft-spoken kid with a playful grin. But when she dons the mask and takes the circle, she's intimidating, imposing . . . sssssmokin'.
McKillop took a ball to the face and broke her nose in a practice last year and has since worn a thin, flip-down mask for protection when she pitches.
The masked maestro weaved a three-hitter with 15 strikeouts Friday to lift first-place East Meadow over surging Farmingdale, 2-0, in a Conference AA-I softball game.
McKillop also knocked in both runs against Dalers star hurler Isabella Corrao.
"Me and [catcher Brittany Anghel] had a great thing going," McKillop said. "I didn't have to shake off anything."
All her pitches were working, said Anghel, a St. Dominic transfer who used to catch for Corrao when they both attended that school.
Corrao carried a no-hitter into the sixth when with two outs, Rachel Sydney hit a sharp grounder to third that couldn't be scooped and was ruled a hit. Christine Backer followed with a nubber, but the throw to first got away, allowing the runners to move to second and third for McKillop - in a facemasked helmet.
She smashed a single up the middle to score both runners.
"The pitch was a little low and I went with it," McKillop said. "Every run was big because I knew it would be a battle of the pitchers."
It was, as Corrao struck out a season-high 17. She also had two hits.
"My curve and drop were on," said Corrao, who didn't seem upset, despite her team's six-game winning streak coming to an end. "East Meadow is great, so I'm encouraged by how we held them. If we can play like this in every game, we'll be fine."
The Dalers (7-4) made the jump up from Conference III this season in large part because of Corrao, a St. Dominic transfer, and they've dominated after a slow start. For the Jets (11-1), a perennial elite, this was the figurative arm extension to keep their feisty little sisters at bay.
"This is what we needed to do," said McKillop, whose team suffered its first loss Wednesday. "We had to show people that we're still No. 1."
Things got sticky in the bottom of the seventh when Corrao led off with a double and Kristie Summus hit a one-out bloop single to center and reached second on the late throw to third. But McKillop buckled down, struck out the next batter and induced a grounder back to the pitcher's circle to end it.
And with that, the mask came off and the smile came out.