The members of the Miller Place softball team, as well as coach Justine Scutaro, are too young to remember the Big Red Machine, also known as the Cincinnati Reds, of the 1970s.
For those reading this under the age of 40, go look it up. Or better yet, watch the Panthers, who sport red jersey tops and do what the Reds used to do: hit, hit, and hit some more, as well as win.
Visiting Miller Place cranked out 16 hits and defeated Islip, 17-4, in a six-inning Suffolk League VII/VIII crossover game Monday.
“We had a really good hitting day today,” said Panthers’ leadoff hitter Carissa Militano, who was 3-for-4 with a home run, three runs scored and four RBIs. “I think we do better off the faster pitchers. We see the ball better.”
Seeing the ball better equaled production. Every Miller Place batter had both a hit and a run, and seven of the nine hitters had an RBI.
The Panthers (9-2) sent 10 to the plate during a six-hit first inning to go up 5-0, helped out by three Buccaneers errors. Miller Place pitcher Hannah Burton got a huge shot of confidence while watching on the bench.
“It boosted me a lot,” said Burton, who picked up the win and allowed three hits and no earned runs with two strikeouts in four innings. “I get to go in knowing it’s not a tight game and I’m more confident in my pitching.”
Islip (7-3) settled down and scored an unearned run in the bottom half of the inning. Still, the Panthers led 9-3 after four innings and blew things open with an eight-run sixth inning. Miller Place sent 13 to the plate in that frame, highlighted by a three-run home run over the right-centerfield fence by Militano and a two-run double from Emma Acevedo (2-for-4, two RBIs, two runs scored).
“We try to come in as calm and relaxed as we can,” Burton said. “We try to go right in, not second-guessing ourselves and play how we know how to play.”
Victoria Iavarone, who pitched the final two innings, added: “That’s the way our team is, we like to stay loose. If we’re tense, then we mess up.”
They certainly didn’t mess up too much Monday. Which leaves the question: What message does this win send to future Panthers opponents?
“I think,” Iavarone said, “everyone should watch out.”
For Miller Place’s Big Red Machine.