It happens so rarely.
A regular-season loss by the Bronx Science softball team is one of those uncommon phenomena that ranks right up there with viewing a solar eclipse, picking the winning lottery numbers, and witnessing a Republican-Democrat three-legged race at a congressional picnic.
Yes, it’s rare. But it happened last week when the Wolverines came out on the short end of a 14-2 game with Stevenson. It was the first regular-season defeat for the Wolverines since April 20, 2017, when Science dropped a 6-5 decision to Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy that had then snapped the Wolverines’ 24-game regular-season winning streak.
But it was hard to find anyone in the Bronx Science green and white who was all that upset about the loss. In fact, the Wolverines were upbeat, saying a loss might have been inevitable with so many seniors having departed from last year’s division championship team, and with freshman and sophomores playing key roles on this year’s squad.
But make no mistake, while they accepted their first league loss in nearly two years, these are still a dangerous bunch of Wolverines, and they plan to use the loss as a learning experience.
“We are very lucky to be young,” first-year head coach Mike Fisher said. “We have nowhere to go but up. But we are 3-1 so we should feel pretty good about ourselves, though it’s hard to feel good at this moment. But we need to feel very good about the future. The future of this season and going forward.”
Bronx Science has just two seniors on its roster — captain and first baseman Brett Zakheim and centerfielder Christina Satina. The rest of the regulars are a combination of juniors and underclassmen, including the freshman tandem of Aliya Fisher and Samantha Pokorny at pitcher and catcher, respectively. Add in rising sophomore Jessica Muller, and there is not only optimism for the future, but for the present as well.
It’s just that there might be some growing pains this season, which the Wolverines didn’t have to deal with in the past.
“This game wasn’t ideal, but I’m glad that it happened because we can learn from it,” Zakheim said. “It’s our first big wake-up call. We’re 3-1 now, and this was a good team that we played. So it’s good to have strong competition and to learn from that.”
Science trailed just 5-2 entering the fourth inning when things went off the rails for the Wolverines. Stevenson, which came into the game unbeaten at 3-0, plated nine runs through a combination of timely hits and a few defensive miscues from Science. It was a forgettable inning that changed the game for Science.
“We’re not expected to be perfect,” the upbeat Zakheim said. “Last year we were a much different team, and this year we’re not that team. It’s good that we lost because we can learn from it, and we played against a team that is better than us — for now. We’re going to play them again, and we’ll play better next time. And we still have a lot of games still left to play.”
Junior shortstop Maya Schuchert, who drilled a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the second for Science, thinks the Wolverines will just turn the page on the loss and move on.
“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal because, overall, I think we played well,” Schuchert said. “We had one bad inning. I think the (umpire) calls were kind of dubious, and we made a few errors, too.
“But next time I think we’re going to be really pumped to play them, and I think we’re going to win next time because now we know what we’re up against.”
For Fisher, it was just one of those days for his Wolverines.
“The kids gave a big effort,” Fisher said. “But I told them after the game, ‘Hey, we’re 3-1. There are going to be games where you feel like the Yankees or the Red Sox, and then you’re going to have games where you feel like the Bad News Bears.’ The season is a marathon, and they will rebound.”
Asked if his team could shake off the loss easily, Fisher laughed. “They already have.”
Then he pointed to the bench where teammates were helping Pokorny celebrate her birthday with singing and baked goods.
“They’re going to have some cupcakes because it’s Sam’s birthday,” Fisher said.
“So they will shift their focus from the game to cookies and cupcakes and being the awesome girls that they are. And they will rebound.”