Kiersten Comer rounded second base perplexed. A little hesitant, she slowed down and made eye contact with the field umpire. But if she had turned to home plate instead, she would have seen her teammates waiting for her.
“At first I didn’t even realize it was a home run,” Comer said, “but once the umpire told me it went over, it felt really good.”
Not only was it a home run, but a grand slam, which gave host West Islip a two-run lead in its 7-6 victory over North Babylon Wednesday in a Suffolk IV/V crossover softball game. Comer’s blast over the leftfield fence put the Lions (1-4) ahead 6-4 and capped a five-run third inning.
“We’ve been struggling hitting this whole season thus far and I think that kind of sparked our hitting,” coach Kourtney Wilson said. “She took a leadership role and she crushed it.”
West Islip trailed early because of a three-run home run by Destiny Schook in the first and a solo home run by Nahtica Shepherd in the second. But West Islip pitcher Sam Gagliardi didn’t allow a few early mistakes to hinder her late.
“I knew it had to be tough for our team because we all really wanted it,” Gagliardi said. “And if I fell apart, then they’d feed off that.”
Gagliardi followed with four shutout innings before North Babylon (2-3) scored twice in the seventh to bring the score to 7-6. But with runners on first and second with two outs, Gagliardi got the final batter to hit a soft line drive to second base.
“You can tell when she gets down on herself, I try pushing her, but this game, she wasn’t really down on herself,” catcher Gianna Raimondi said. “I could see it in her eyes how she wanted it, and she hit her spots.”
Raimondi was 3-for-4 with two runs off aggressive baserunning, scoring on a wild pitch and forcing a defensive error to score her second run. Erin Schweers, Alyssa Adams and Amanda Arena added runs.
West Islip hopes the win will spark a program that entered the season losing only 12 games the previous three seasons.
“Our season hasn’t been how we wanted it to be,” Raimondi said, “so today was a big game for our turnaround for the season. It was really important.”