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Kelsey Vandewater, Mepham make statement with win over Island Trees

The Pirates took an early 6-0 lead and wound up scoring at least one run in every inning on 14 total hits.

Mepham shortstop Kelsey Vandewater right, gets congratulated by

Mepham shortstop Kelsey Vandewater right, gets congratulated by Kara Castaldo after her two-run triple gave the fourth-seeded Pirates a 12-0 win over fifth-seeded Island Trees in five innings in a Nassau Class A first-round playoff game at Mepham High School on Friday. Photo Credit: James Escher

The Mepham softball team wanted to make a statement this year that just because it competed in Nassau ABC-II last season, the jump to Nassau ABC-I was not only deserved, but overdue.

That message was sent and received in a 12-0 five-inning victory for host No. 4 Mepham over No. 5 Island Trees in the Nassau Class A quarterfinals Friday afternoon. Mepham advances to face No. 1 MacArthur, winners of the last two Long Island championships, Monday in a best-of-three semifinals.

“Being the underdogs,” shortstop Kelsey Vandewater said, “we really wanted to prove that just because we aren’t known as the top team, we can outwork other teams and bring home the victory.”

Mepham (12-5) wasted little time Friday, scoring three runs in each of the first and second innings to take a 6-0 advantage. The Pirates, totaling 14 hits, scored in every inning as eight of the nine starters either had an RBI or run in the win.

“It’s an unbelievable experience,” said Vandewater, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs. “The fact that we won two playoff games, that hasn’t been done in years. And moving up to Conference I was a big jump, but we were ready for it and we prepared all year for it.”

Leadoff hitter Jenna Giliberti went 3-for-4 with three runs and No. 2 hitter Stefanie Simone added two hits, two RBIs and two runs in the win. Kerri Donlon added a run and executed a squeeze bunt, Kara Castaldo hit a two-run double in the first inning and Alanna Morse added two hits and two runs.

Defensively, centerfielder Brianna Morse helped keep Island Trees (6-11) off the scoreboard, including robbing a potential three-run home run in the second inning, and also went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

“I think we really work as a unit,” Morse said. “We always support each other, pick each other up if we’re down, just always trying to work hard.”

Mepham’s trio of Kayleigh Roth, Emma Greiner and Kayla Bourquin combined to throw a five-hit shutout, with Roth pitching the first three innings.

“The pitchers just worked with each other and they constantly communicated,” coach Brenda Dolan said. “And they made it happen today.”

And with a matchup against the defending Long Island Class A champion MacArthur (20-1), with Jess Budrewicz coming off a one-hitter in a 2-0 quarterfinal victory over Clarke Friday, the Pirates hope their offensive prowess continues next week.

“This is definitely a confidence booster,” Vandewater said. “It’s just indescribable. It’s an amazing feeling and I think we’re definitely ready for the next few games.”

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