In past seasons, the Rocks’ journey to the Long Island championship game was a brief one. As the public school with the lowest enrollment in the county, East Rockaway was often the only Class C team in Nassau and was thus given an automatic bid to play in the title game.
In 2019, things changed. Not only did the Rocks play a regular season schedule that included some of the county’s strongest teams, they moved up a level to Class B. This meant two rounds of playoffs against bigger schools just to win the Nassau crown.
After mowing down Carle Place and Oyster Bay to take the county, East Rockaway took on the challenge of facing Suffolk champion Center Moriches at Eastport Athletic Complex on June 6 for the right to play for a trip upstate.
Once again, the Rocks persevered. East Rockaway scored two early runs and rode the right arm of Emily Chelius to win 2-1 and capture its fourth consecutive Long Island championship and eighth in program history.
Chelius, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, gave up just a bunt single. The Center Moriches run was unearned. Leanne Wright’s second inning double brought home Adriana Ramiriz and Emma Pollackov to give the Rocks a lead they’d never relinquish. Chelius had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles.
“Coming in, we knew they were good and had some strong hitters,” Chelius said. “The umpire’s strike zone was very small, so I knew I had to adjust after the first inning. We made some good plays in the field. I’m happy that we’re still playing. I just didn’t want it to end.”
While Chelius was working her magic in the circle, the Rocks weren’t letting her down in the field. Two freshmen, right fielder Riley O’Hagan and second baseman Mimi Bilardello, each made a pair of sparkling plays to keep the Red Devils off the bases.
In the bottom of the seventh, Chelius retired the first batter before the bunt single broke up her bid for a second postseason no-hitter. A miscue by the Rocks allowed a run to score before Chelius ended the contest with her eighth strikeout of the game.
Unfortunately, East Rockaway fell a game short of a trip to the state semifinals when it fell 4-2 to Ardsley at Hofstra two days later. The Rocks held an early 2-0 lead, scoring a run in the first and third innings, but the Panthers took advantage of their opportunities and won the Southeast Regional title.
Chelius, who in addition to being named an All-County recipient and MVP of the Nassau Class B playoffs, was selected as Nassau County’s top pitcher, will play college ball at SUNY Fredonia. In the postseason, she was 5-1 with an earned run average of 0.52 over 40 innings.
Junior Hunter Vertuccio earned All-County honorable mention, with senior Siobhan Perini and Bilardello picking up All-Classification recognition.