Olivia Ikes pitched a complete game for Oceanside in Game...

Olivia Ikes pitched a complete game for Oceanside in Game 1 of the Nassau Class AAA finals on Saturday May 25, 2024 at Farmingdale State. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

There may not be a statistic to prove it, but there’s just something about a key defensive play that can translate to individual offensive success. Take Julia Valukis as the latest example of that.

The Oceanside leftfielder threw out a runner at the plate in the third inning in Game 1 of the Nassau Class AAA softball championships on Saturday afternoon. She then led off the fourth inning with a single and although she didn’t score that frame, Valukis singled again in the sixth inning with the score still tied at 1. This time, Logan Denman followed with a double to drive in Valukis and break the tie at 1 as third-seeded Oceanside defeated top-seeded Massapequa, 4-3, in Game 1 of the best-of-three Nassau Class AAA finals at Farmingdale State.

“That can make a huge difference,” said Valukis of throwing out a runner at the plate attempting to tag up following a flyout. “Just from getting that out, everyone’s confidence is up, everyone’s energy level is up and it was great to get that momentum to transfer into hitting.”

Denman wanted to have an aggressive approach when she came to the plate in the sixth inning following Valukis’ single. She drove the first pitch over the leftfielder’s head for a double to drive in Valukis. Two batters later, Sophie Vlahakis doubled in Kate Hyland, who pinch-ran for Denman, and Samantha Chaisson, who reached on an error.

“I just wanted to get on, get everyone going,” Denman said. “We were all getting on and once one person gets a hit, it gets everyone going, which is exactly what happened. We feed off each other so once I got my hit, everyone got hyped and it really made us come together.”

Oceanside (16-8) and Massapequa (17-6) play Game 2 at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Farmingdale State.

Massapequa scored two runs in the seventh inning and although Oceanside coach Carlo Quagliata had a mound visit with starting pitcher Olivia Ikes, he said he wasn’t considering removing his pitcher. Ikes got the final hitter to line out to shortstop Riley Brasch with a runner on first base to finish the complete game.

“It was Olivia’s game,” Quagliata said. “It was her game to close out. It’s all hands on deck in this series but we told her you do your thing and we’ll be fine. She made the pitches and got the outs.”

Valukis, Denman and Vlahakis each had two hits and Sophie Nesturrick went 3-for-3 with a walk in the win. Nesturrick said the Sailors feel they are just as good as Massapequa despite being the lower seed and felt confident on Saturday.

“It’s huge getting that first win, especially when you’re up against the No. 1 seed,” Nesturrick said. “Now tomorrow we can come in a little bit more confident but still wanting to come in like we’re down 1-0 and wanting to win that game.”

Oceanside is one win away from its first county title since 2015.

“We got the pitching today and we have to keep it going,” Quagliata said. “These girls know it’s not over. Just getting here is not enough. These teams have waited a long time for this so we’re going to be ready to go tomorrow.”


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