CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – After a solid freshman campaign, Tappan Zee pitcher Paulina Gutkin has picked up right where she left off.
Gutkin continued her dominance on the hill Monday by tossing a complete-game three-hitter with 12 strikeouts in an 8-0 win over host John Jay-Cross River. The Dutchies improved to 4-0.
“She’s getting stronger as the innings go on,” Tappan Zee coach Gene Kousoulas said. “A couple of times she’ll struggle with her control, but she seems to find it at the right time. She works really, really hard. If we’re not at practice I see her jogging down the street. If something’s not right she tries to fix it as quick as possible and she’s really doing a great job.”
Dutkin’s teammates have great confidence when she’s pitching.
“With Paulina on the mound, we know it’s a win,” senior center fielder Cassi Coyle said. “She’s an outstanding player. Without her, the season would be totally different.”
Through four games, the sensational sophomore leads Section 1 in strikeouts with 48.
“I try to [be a strikeout pitcher], but I really rely on my team to back me up and I know that they’re there for me,” said Gutkin, who had her screwball and curveball working well for her against the Indians. “Cassi Coyle and Meagan Trozzo made some great plays.”
Tappan Zee’s defense committed zero errors. Coyle, a speedy senior center fielder, made a diving catch to rob a base hit in the third inning.
“We don’t want anyone reaching first base,” Kousoulas said. “We really take a lot of pride in making sure our defense is there.”
“Every year we’re a good defensive team,” said Coyle, who has started in the outfield since her freshman year and became the starting center fielder as a sophomore. “Offense is normally a little slow for us, but this year we’re finally capitalizing on that, too.”
Tappan Zee got on the board in the first inning with an RBI single by Coyle. A two-RBI single by Teresa Tagliaferi extended the lead to 3-0 in the second inning.
Kaitlin Quirk, who finished 2 for 2 with two walks, had an RBI single in the fourth. The Dutchies added three more runs in the sixth on an RBI single by Coyle, RBI ground out from junior shortstop Aferdita Sinanaj and RBI triple by first baseman Kelly Connolly. Chrissie Ryan had an RBI ground out in the seventh to give the Dutchies an 8-0 lead.
“If one person doesn’t do the job, the next person seems to be picking them up,” Kousoulas. “It hasn’t been just cheap hits, either. They’re hitting some nice line-drive shots.”
Tappan Zee senior Regina Argenzio, who is in her first season starting at catcher on varsity, finished 2 for 5 with a stolen base. She’s very familiar with Gutkin as they were battery mates on JV together.
“She’s the best,” Gutkin said. “She caught for me in seventh and eighth grade. She knows what I can do and I know what she can do and it helps so much.”
For John Jay-CR (0-1), shortstop Ashleigh Rutherford went 2 for 3 with a triple. Devon Novick also hit a triple.
The Dutchies believe that that the keys to their undefeated start have been solid play in all areas of the game.
“Everything seems to be working right now,” Kousoulas said. “The offense and defense are both doing their ends. Our goal is to fight for seven innings. It doesn’t matter what the score is because any team can sneak up on you.”
With an ace on the hill, a solid defense and timely hitting, Tappan Zee will be a serious threat in Section 1 Class A this season.
“We’re planning to go all the way,” Gutkin said. “We’re going to practice hard every day and work hard.”