Taking the mound against her counterpart, Caitlyn Herzig, and tied for the second-most wins in Suffolk County at 13 apiece, Maggie Miller’s start to Wednesday afternoon’s projected pitchers’ duel didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated.
A leadoff single followed by a pair of passed balls in the top of the first inning put Miller and the North Babylon softball team in an early hole against their top rival It put the Bulldogs in an immediate uphill climb against another top pitching talent.
But once North Babylon evened the score in the bottom of the inning, Miller took over from there, allowing a total of only four hits in a 5-1 victory over West Islip in Suffolk III.
“That stuff doesn’t really bother me,” Miller said of the opening inning. “I don’t let that get to my head, because then the game’s over. I just had to believe in my team and that we’d get it back.”
Following a throwing error that allowed North Babylon to break a tie at 1 in the second, Megan Wegel laced an RBI single to extend the lead to 3-1. Wegel later added a sacrifice fly to tack on another run before hitting an inside-the-park home run to leftfield in the sixth.
“I thought it would be a double at first,” Wegel said. “But then I looked up and saw Coach [John Egan] getting all excited and waving me around third. So I just kept going and hoped that I wouldn’t be out, because I knew he was waving me around no matter what.”
North Babylon (14-1) extended its winning streak to 12 games, with its only loss this season coming in its first matchup with West Islip (14-1) on April 11, which the Eagles won 12-0.
Egan commended his team for their strong response in the rematch.
“Caitlyn Herzig is a very good pitcher,” Egan said. “We knew it was going to be tough to go against her. I have a lot of respect for that team; they’re a tough out. But the girls were focused and knew they would need to play a crisp game against West Islip today.”
Backed by Wegel’s timely hitting, Miller got stronger as the game progressed. Egan said he believed in Miller’s potential to dominate on the mound despite this being her first full season pitching.
“I had a lot of confidence in her going into the season,” Egan said. “I knew what type of pitcher she was. She’s up to the challenge and knew she had to rise to the moment. And the girls look up to her. She really rose to the occasion.”