Riverhead's Isabella Dandrea (13) waits for a pitch in the...

Riverhead's Isabella Dandrea (13) waits for a pitch in the first inning during the Suffolk High School softball game between Riverhead and Patchogue-Medford on Friday March 22, 2024 at Riverhead High School Credit: Bob Sorensen

Riverhead was patient at the plate all game long. But with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth inning, Isabella D’Andrea was aggressive.

With the Blue Waves trailing by a run, the junior jumped on the first pitch of the at-bat and laced a ground ball up the middle to drive in Tifany Perez and Deanna North, propelling host Riverhead to a 7-4 win over Patchogue-Medford in a Suffolk League I softball opener on Friday. The game was called in the bottom of the fifth because of darkness.

“I’m pretty used to situations like that,” D’Andrea said. “I’m usually the No. 4 hitter on my travel team so that’s kind of my thing, needing to make a play and get on base when there are two outs.”

The Blue Waves walked 11 times, including four in the first inning, when they scored two runs on wild pitches.

Sophia Viola went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs and Shaylee Bealey drew three walks.

Riverhead junior pitcher Mya Marelli used her fastball, changeup and curveball as wipeout pitches to strike out seven of the first eight batters she faced.

“I don’t throw that many pitches, but I really focus on hitting my spots,” Marelli said. “If I’m in a situation where I really need to pull through, I know I can do it.”

Marelli ran into trouble in the third inning, though. Hannah Eve drove in Giuliana Atcosta with a double to center and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Ariana Shellman. Isabel Briand launched a two-run home run to center to give Patchogue-Medford a 4-2 lead.

But Marelli was able to get back on track and totaled 12 strikeouts in five innings. She allowed six hits, four runs and no walks.

“She has so much poise,” coach Richard Vlacci said. “For a lot of people, giving up a home run and all of a sudden it’s a 4-2 game, you can easily get down on yourself.”

With the bases loaded and one out in the third inning, D’Andrea grounded out to second to bring in North, cutting Riverhead’s deficit to 4-3.

“We make good decisions at the plate,” D’Andrea said. “I think we’re a really good-hitting team, even though last year, we were said to be more of a small-ball team.”

After reaching the county semifinals and finishing 15-9 with a young group last season, Riverhead has high expectations this year.

“We want to win a league championship this year,” Vlacci said. “We were one game away from it last year and we returned a lot of girls and they’ve put in a lot of work. We want to get back there and once we do, the hope is to continue and make a deep run in the playoffs.”

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