The Eastport-South Manor softball team has just one unchecked box left on its bucket list: win a state championship.
Led by Marissa and Christina Rizzi and a flawless defensive effort, the Sharks defeated Oceanside, 6-2, in the Long Island Class AA championship game Friday at St. Joseph's College in Patchogue. This is the program's first Long Island title at the AA level, coach Laura Ward said.
"We all wanted this a lot," said Marissa Rizzi, who allowed five hits and a walk and struck out three in the complete-game win. "This was on our bucket list for the whole season. Now we've got one more thing to accomplish."
The Sharks (24-2) will start the last leg of their quest for a state championship against Shenendehowa or Liverpool in a semifinal at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 13 in Glens Falls.
After a scoreless first inning, Eastport-South Manor scored five runs in the second. Oceanside (19-7) committed four errors, which led to the first three runs. Then, with two outs and runners on first and third, Christina Rizzi drove a pitch deep into the right-center gap for a triple.
"We took charge," said Christina Rizzi, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. "I wanted to get the runs in for the team and break it open a little for us."
Marissa Rizzi had allowed as many as three runs only twice all season, so the Sailors faced a tall task in trying to mount a comeback.
"She was hitting her spots really well," Christina Rizzi said. "Her outside pitch was hitting the corner really nice."
The defense backed up Rizzi with a perfect performance, committing zero errors to Oceanside's five. Shortstop Kailah Konkel converted five ground balls into outs, showing off her range with a tough backhand in the hole in the second inning. Rightfielder Hope Brenkert made a sliding catch in the sixth.
"Everything Marissa throws, she has the confidence in her defense behind her," Ward said. "They always come through for her, and she supports them 100 percent."
Oceanside settled down after the second inning, committing only one error and allowing one run the rest of the way. Sophomore Sabrina Seeger gave up six hits and one earned run in the complete-game loss.
"She seemed very resilient," Ward said. "She was an impressive pitcher. She threw good stuff and she never gave up. She kept working. She's impressive."
Ward also was impressed by her team, which reached this point after a pair of one-run wins over Sachem East in the county finals.
"We had a lot of pressure games throughout the playoffs in Suffolk County," Ward said. "We played some great, great games against some great teams, and we survived. I think we took that confidence to the field today."