By Jason Hanes
Making its debut at the Myrtle Beach Summer Nationals, Team Long Island 2024 shook off Wednesday’s rain cancelation to win its qualifying bracket pool with a 4-1 victory over NJ Cheetahs – Voluntad Thursday afternoon.
“We took the rain cancelation as an opportunity to come out quick,” said Team Long Island 2024 head coach Marie Racano. “I think in our second game, we were a little high off of our huge offensive run in the first game. I think we got a little comfortable, not realizing that we were going to have to do it again and not realizing that we were going to have to string our hits together.”
After a 14-0 win in game one of the day, runs would be at a premium in the matchup against NJ Cheetahs – Voluntad. The game would turn in the third inning, however, as three runs came home to give Team Long Island 2024 a lead that would last. With runners on the corners, Bella Cruz would beat out an infield hit to drive in a run, and after the throw to first got away, there were runners on second and third. After a foul out left two on with two out, Sophie Nesturrick stepped up with what would be the biggest hit of the game, pulling the ball into left field to bring home both runners, making it 3-0.
“I knew the pitchers weren’t pitching anything crazy, so I was just looking for a ball that I could hit,” Nesturrick said. “I just wanted to get a pitch that I could hit to bring the runners in and keep my eye on the ball and get it past the infield.”
Nesturrick would also drive in the final run of the game for Team Long Island. With a runner on third following a sacrifice bunt, Nesturrick would lift a sacrifice fly to bring home the fourth run of the game for her squad.
The offensive output also helped take pressure off the pitchers for Team Long Island 2024. “It gives them more confidence. If we’ve got a lead, we can just pay attention to the next hitter and get the next out,” Nesturrick, one of the Team Long Island catchers, said of her pitchers.
Debutants at the Myrtle Beach Summer Nationals, Team Long Island’s squad may not be the deepest, but it is one of the most eager to compete in the event. “All eleven of my girls are ready to go,” said coach Racano. “Whoever is called upon is ready to play a role. We’re looking to make a run here. We’ve never been here before, so we’re very excited to compete.”