When facing Commack’s softball team, opponents better be on their toes. Because the Cougars certainly are.
“It creates a tremendous amount of pressure,” said Commack coach Harold Cooley, whose team’s speed embodies that of their mascot. “I think it’s no surprise anymore. I think everyone figured out we are very fast, very aggressive.”
Commack’s players have embraced playing with the run-first mentality.
“I try to be as aggressive as I can to get them frantic and put pressure on them,” said Gianna Venuti, who had two infield singles in host Commack’s 6-1 victory over Sachem North in Suffolk II softball Monday. “I like to steal a lot and I just like to go out there and do my thing. Make them nervous and make them make the plays.”
Sachem North (7-8) struck first on Sam MacPherson’s one-out RBI triple to bring in Keira Mahoney to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. But Commack pitcher Kelly McKenna settled in from there, retiring 19 of the final 23 batters in a four-hitter.
“I just felt like I was on, I felt like I could do anything,” McKenna said. “In the beginning, I thought ‘This is going to be a battle,’ but toward the end I felt like I was in a groove.”
Commack (13-3) responded with Danielle Gambino’s two-out, two-run single to bring in Stephanie Afonso and Venuti in a two-run third inning.
“It’s a really good feeling, I’m not going to lie,” Gambino said of her recent success in driving in runners. “I just love knowing I can pick up the team by doing that and I know it gets us ahead a lot.”
Commack added four more runs in the fourth inning with its speed creating multiple Sachem North errors. Afonso had an RBI single and Sabrina Sussman added an RBI groundout. Ariana Arato, Nicole Principe, Afonso and pinch-runner Melanie Koster scored in the frame.
The Cougars, the defending Suffolk AA champions, have won 12 of their last 13 games after starting the season 1-2.
“Like our coach says, we have a target on our back and we have something that we reached and we always want to reach it again,” Venuti said. “We always work hard every day, no matter what.”