Softball Team Are Suffolk Champs

East Islip's softball team can count themselves Suffolk champions for the very first time. With their 6-5 defeat of Longwood on June 1, the Redmen wrapped up the three-game Suffolk County Class AA championship series.

"It's such a great feeling because it's the first time," said head coach Jason McGowan. "And also because we deserved it. Our team really had a tough road. East Islip had to knock off the number one and number two seeds to get to the championship series. We had to beat the best, and we did."

East Islip's fortunes were tied to star pitcher Courtney Blake, a senior who recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball for Endicott College. Blake pitched in all three games.

After eliminating Centereach, Commack and Bay Shore, East Islip began the Longwood series with a 12-4 win on May 29 at Longwood, only to stumble in game two, losing 6-3 in East Islip on May 31.

In the deciding third contest, held at Longwood, Blake came up big, pitching a tough complete game. As the seventh inning began, Blake hit a double, then scored the tying run on Shelby Heyward's RBI single. Pinch runner Kristina Rodriguez put East Islip ahead, scoring the go-ahead run, after which Blake shut Longwood's batters down.

EI (21-5) will next face the Nassau County champs, Levittown's MacArthur High School, on Tuesday, June 5 for the Class AA Long Island championship. The game will take place at 4 p.m. at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale. McGowan is confident in his team's ability to rise to the occasion and deliver under pressure, noting, "Our girls are resilient." He has no doubt that East Islip can be Long Island's best. ""MacArthur are a very good team and were ranked number one all year," he said. "We scrimmaged them in March and they're good, but we feel we're peaking right now. We are on a roll and can beat anybody."