By Marc Raimondi
Nicole Marra pitched a complete-game, two-hit shutout against Townsend Harris in the Bayside softball team's 7-0 win Wednesday afternoon in a Queens I-A game at home. The Commodores senior right-hander struck out 14 Hawks batters and walked only one.
“And we both know she's struggling,” Bayside coach Steve Piorkowski said.
Marra and Piorkowski both admitted afterward that Marra was not pitching nearly as well as she could. She was throwing strikes, but not painting the corners. She was throwing hard – somewhere in the mid- to high-50s. But not as hard as she's capable.
“I think I was a little tight,” Marra said, “and I wasn't pitching to the best of my abilities.”
The Townsend Harris (0-2) hitters still could not figure her out, though. The Hawks threatened only once. In the second inning, catcher Danielle Abatemarco led off the inning with a single and, after Keyana Sarikhani struck out, third baseman Kristin Eggers walked. Both Abatemarco and Eggers advanced to third and second base, respectively, on a delayed steal. But Marra came back to strike out Stephanie Yim and Catherine Villani to end the inning.
The pitcher from Fresh Meadows would retire 16 of the next 17 batters after the Eggers walk and face the minimum.
Townsend Harris junior starter Cecilia Ehresman was just as good through the first three innings. She gave up only a hit and a walk, while striking out eight. But in the fourth, Bayside (2-0) figured her out. Mariel Perez singled to start the inning, then Marra doubled. Tai Anne Bishop made it to first on a fielder's choice when Ehresman spent too much time looking Perez back to third base.
Third baseman Nicole Vitiello drove in Perez with a single, Marra scored on a wild pitch and Bishop came in after an error. In the sixth, the Commodores scored four more times off Ehresman, including a solo home run by center fielder Paisley Manga.
For the game, Perez was 1-for-1 with two walks and two runs scored, Marra was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Bishop was 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
“We all timed her and got the bat on the ball,” Marra said.
It was a major statement, too. Piorkowski called Ehresman one of the “top three or top five pitchers in the city,” regardless of league. And that's not a stretch. The Whitestone native throws in the 60s with a good changeup and a solid screwball. She has, however, struggled early this season. Francis Lewis torched her for 10 earned runs in the Patriots' 14-4 win against Townsend Harris on March 25.
“We put the ball in play and we put the ball in play solidly,” Piorkowski said. “Good hitters figure it out.”
The Bayside coach has plenty of them. And a darn good pitcher, too. Piorkowski thinks the Commodores have the ability to compete for a PSAL Class A city championship.
“Do we have the talent to do it?” the coach asked. “Sure, but that doesn't mean it's gonna happen.”
Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.