TARRYTOWN Rye Country Day runs early and often on the bases, covering ground aggressively and with a sense of purpose.
In a sport played without a clock, the Wildcats display a refreshing sense of urgency every time they swipe an extra base with the recklessness of a soccer forward on a breakaway.
The nine bases Rye Country Day stole in the first three innings of Tuesday’s game against Hackley is a precise sample of the formula that has led a veteran corps to a 13-1 regular-season finish.
“We like to capitalize on our opportunities,” senior outfielder Taylor Forte said (shown below, left). “Part of our game is observing what we can take advantage of. We watch (our opponents) before the game and we’re always focused.”
The Emory-bound Forte is one of five three-year varsity players on a team that finished 7-7 last year.
While starters Forte and Amber Rose Nelson were hampered by injuries last year, senior pitcher Eve Wulf was a mainstay inside the circle.
“She has developed more speed and accuracy this year and we believe in Eve,” Scarcella said. “We’ve said that for three years now. ‘We believe in Eve.’ ”
The Wildcats have good reason to believe in Eve’s ability — Wulf (shown above, right) tossed every inning of every game during the previous two seasons.
“This year was the first game on varsity I was ever relieved, against Greens Farms,” Wulf said.
The righty scattered five hits in five innings in a 20-0 win over the Hornets that was highlighted by a two-run homer from freshman Melanie Mandell.
“A lot of the underclassmen are stepping up and performing,” Forte said. “If you look across our lineup, you can’t tell who’s a senior or who’s a sophomore. It’s everyone mixed in.”
The lone blemish on the Wildcats’ season was a 10-7 loss to Holy Child, a squad Rye Country Day may face again once the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) playoffs begin Sunday.
“We are definitely looking forward to facing Holy Child again,” Forte said. “We’ll come out stronger and on top. We want to show them that we are here to play and win it all.”
With a 7-1 league record, the Wildcats are guaranteed at least a share of the Fairchester title, which may be divided two or three ways depending on an upcoming meeting between St. Luke’s and Holy Child.
“Our first season is done,” Scarcella said. “Now, we go into the playoffs and hopefully win three in a row.”