Brian Marcelin, center, with both teams before Half Hollow Hills...

Brian Marcelin, center, with both teams before Half Hollow Hills hosted Whitman in second autism awareness game at Hills West’s field on Friday, April 19, 2024. Credit: Bob Sorensen

Brian Marcelin moved up to about halfway between the circle and the plate at Half Hollow Hills West’s softball field. The Hills East senior let fly overhand with a feel-good, ceremonial first pitch, prompting a soundtrack of clapping hands and loud cheers.

Soon Kaitlyn Magerle was letting fly underhand with a whole lot of pitches that made her Whitman team feel good.

Half Hollow Hills’ combined softball team hosted its second annual autism awareness game Friday. Whitman has been the opponent both times. This time, Magerle fired a four-hitter, helping fuel the Wildcats’ 5-2 win on a special day.

“I love that they keep picking us to play against,” the senior righthander said about the charitable cause. “It means a lot to everyone here and we get to be a part of it.”

Marcelin is graduating from a Hills East special education program that teaches life skills. The program has a club called Best Buddies, matching special needs students with peers at the school, leading to friendships between each pairing.

The third Best Buddies prom is coming May 23 at the Hills East gym. Money raised from snack and T-shirt sales at this game will go toward staging the prom.

“It’s a huge hit,” said Kerry Guarriello, Hills’ co-softball coach with Sal Trovato and one of Marcelin’s special ed teachers. “Everybody loves it.”

The chance to throw out the first pitch was a hit for Marcelin. He’s 22 and nonverbal. His brother summed up everything for him.

“It’s a great moment,” said Michael Marcelin, who’s the Hills East boys basketball coach. “A lot of people came out to support. Just throwing the first pitch is a monumental thing and just a great showcase for autism awareness.”

Magerle (2-3) excelled for the seven innings that followed. Both runs off her were unearned. The SUNY-Geneseo commit struck out three and walked none.

“Kaitlyn hit every spot today,” Whitman coach Ralph Miranda said. " . . . I think probably by far out of all her starts so far, this is her best this season.”

The Wildcats (5-5, 5-5) finished with 11 hits.

Ariana Aramburu delivered an RBI double and Lucy O’Loughlin and Vanessa Ramsaran had RBI singles in a three-run third against Lucy Feigenbaum (4-4). Riley McDonnell added a two-run double in the sixth.

Hills (6-4, 6-4) dropped its third straight.

“We’re actually hitting the ball well,” Trovato said. “It’s just balls are not falling.”


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