05/17/12 7:52pm
05/17/2012 7:52 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold/Greenport first baseman Nicole Busso reaching down to catch a throw.


The Southold/Greenport softball team brought its 2012 season to an end on Thursday, with one eye looking ahead to the future, hopeful of better days to come.

On the same day that the Clippers bid farewell to their two seniors, catcher Erin Creedon and third baseman Alexis Reed, they were thumped, 13-3, as Pierson/Bridgehampton pitcher Melanie Stafford hurled a one-hitter and shortstop Kasey Gilbride drove in four runs.

Stafford recorded 11 strikeouts, with one walk. The only hit she allowed was an infield single by Kim Bracken, who raced down the basepath to narrowly beat the shortstop’s throw in the fourth inning.

Creedon and Reed, perhaps unnerved by a pregame Senior Day ceremony at Southold High School, both went 0 for 3 in their final game for the last-place Clippers (1-15 overall and in Suffolk County Conference IV).

“There are a lot of emotions there for them,” Southold/Greenport coach Lori Marra said. “You can’t just pretend that that’s not there. But I think once the game started going, we had to remember that we’re still here to play a game, not just say goodbye.”

In losing only two players to graduation, the Clippers should be in a better situation next year. Marra has expressed confidence that Wendy Peterson, a junior, will be able to over the catcher position. Sarah Tuthill, a freshman who has played for both the varsity and junior varsity teams this season, can play third base as well as pitch. She pitched the final two innings of Thursday’s game in relief of junior Courtney O’Sullivan.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Emma Romeo of Pierson/Bridgehampton sliding home safe despite the efforts of Southold/Greenport catcher Erin Creedon.

Meanwhile, other players have made strides this year, particularly Caitlin Grilli, a freshman who split time at shortstop with sophomore Jessica Rizzo. “I could throw either one of them out there and feel comfortable,” Marra said of the two first-year varsity players. “Neither of them held back. They both pushed; they both worked hard.”

Also among the young up-and-coming players are a corps of sophomore outfielders: Leah LaFreniere, Kendra King, Kayleigh Commins, Alexandra Small and Briana Pagano.

Speaking of the younger players, some of whom made the jump straight from junior high school to varsity, O’Sullivan said: “They skipped a whole level, so it was a whole learning experience. We just kept improving the whole season.”

Bracken, a junior second baseman, said the most important thing the young Clippers learned is the value of communication. “It was bittersweet because although we’re losing Erin and Alexis — and it’s extremely sad — we’re definitely taking a lot of steps in the right direction, and every single game I’ve seen extreme improvement in each of our players and I feel extremely comfortable around them,” she said. “I am so looking forward to next year. I think we’re going to be great.”

That is the sort of talk that Marra likes to hear. “They’re all kind of already excited for next year, too, and that’s a good feeling to have,” she said. “As a coach, you want them to be excited.”

The second-place Whalers (11-6, 10-6) used the game as a final tuneup for the playoffs. They collected 18 hits, including three apiece by Sariah Cafiero (two runs batted in, three runs scored) and Stafford. In addition, the Whalers benefited from eight Southold/Greenport errors.

The Whalers have been wearing yellow ribbons on their cleats in support of their coach, Melissa Edwards, who suffered the loss of her father recently. Charlie Edwards, a deliveryman, was killed after his vehicle struck a tree in North Haven. He was 56.

Melissa Edwards, a former Riverhead High School star player, said the Whalers have been a great source of comfort to her during this difficult time.

“They have been absolutely amazing,” she said. “I call them my Band-Aid. They’re basically my big Band-Aid right now because obviously it’s a sore spot, A lot has been going on in my life. The team, the whole community of Sag Harbor has been amazing, from administration to parents to everyone.”

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05/14/12 7:11pm
05/14/2012 7:11 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | One of Southold/Greenport's two seniors, third baseman Alexis Reed, preparing to throw to first base.


As the softball regular season draws to an end, so do the high school playing careers of seniors. The fortunate among them have the playoffs to look forward to. For others, such as Southold/Greenport’s two seniors, catcher Erin Creedon and third baseman Alexis Reed, it means the end to a memorable chapter in their lives.

Creedon and Reed both acknowledged that a sense of an impending conclusion hit them on Monday before their penultimate game. It was the Senior Day ceremony before the Suffolk County League VIII game at Center Moriches High School that suddenly made it all seem imminent.

Center Moriches coach Rich Roberts, addressing the fans, introduced his five seniors — Victoria Halboron, Kristen Miglionico, Colleen Nohilly, Salena Robbs and Jordan Walther, all of whom started — and thanked them for their service to the program. The ceremony tugged at emotions.

“Seeing that senior stuff freaked me out a little,” Reed said after playoff-bound Center Moriches (10-8, 10-6 Conference IV) concluded its regular season in style with a 6-0 shutout of Southold/Greenport.

The Clippers (1-14, 1-14) still have one remaining game, Tuesday at home against Pierson/Bridgehampton. But the end is coming.

“It’s sad,” Creedon said. “Softball has been like a family for me, and we’ve had a lot of experiences together.”

Creedon and Reed are the team’s two captains. Southold/Greenport coach Lori Marra described the two of them as reliable, responsible team leaders who have helped make her job easier.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold/Greenport shortstop Jessica Rizzo fielding a ground ball in Center Moriches.

“They’re my assistant coaches,” she said. “They’ve been a blessing in a lot of ways. They’ve stepped it up this season. They had to take a different role than they had in the past.”

Roberts, who is in his 11th year as the Center Moriches coach, knows full well the value of senior leadership. “My experience is seniors can make or break you,” he said. “It doesn’t matter [what] their talent level [is]. Kids look up to kids who have been around. If they’re doing the right thing, then your team will do the right thing. If they’re not doing the right thing, I’ve seen teams’ seasons get flushed because they don’t care.”

Senior Day was a smash hit for Center Moriches in every way. Kiley Nolan, supported by errorless defense, struck out eight batters for the seven-hit shutout. She didn’t issue any walks. The Red Devils received two hits apiece from Chiaura Smith, Walther, Nohilly, Miglionico and Robbs. Halboron had two runs batted in from a pair of groundouts.

Center Moriches scored two runs each in the second, third and fourth innings.

It was a good tuneup for the playoffs for Class B Center Moriches, which lost to Babylon in county finals the past two years.

Kim Bracken and Reed provided Southold/Greenport with two hits each.

While it hasn’t been a winning season for Southold/Greenport, the Clippers can take comfort in that they should be in a better situation next year, with almost the entire team returning. “Hopefully next year when we’re starting out, we’re not going to start with that, ‘We’re young. We’re going to grow,’ ” said Marra, who is in her first year as the team’s coach. “Hopefully we did that this season. Hopefully we take whatever we did here and just kind of build on that and keep building.”

Reed said the season has been a good learning experience for everyone on the team. “I learned a lot from the underclassmen,” she said. “They helped me grow as a player. They helped me see that sometimes I get down on myself. They have such a positive outlook all the time. That sort of opened my eyes through preseason that maybe I should start having a positive outlook, and that’s really helped me a lot.”

“I want this program to succeed when we’re not here, and I think we put a good foundation down for them to succeed,” she said of her younger teammates. “They’re growing now. Game after game, play after play, they’re becoming better players, and I’m really proud of that.”

Senior Day festivities are nothing new to Roberts. “It’s bittersweet,” he said. “You say goodbye to kids you’ve been coaching for a long time. You kind of have the opportunity to see them mature and grow. It’s good to see them go off to college and do their thing. It’s like going to a graduation.”

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03/13/13 8:00pm
03/13/2013 8:00 PM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Nicole Busso, a senior first baseman, has been a regular starter for Southold/Greenport since the second game of her freshman season.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Nicole Busso, a senior first baseman, has been a regular starter for Southold/Greenport since the second game of her freshman season.

One can only imagine what was going through Nicole Busso’s mind when, two games into the 2010 high school softball season, she was thrust right into Southold/Greenport’s starting lineup as a freshman first baseman alongside another freshman at the time, second baseman Kim Bracken. Surely, they must have felt some trepidation upon making their varsity debuts in that game.

“It would have been a lot scarier for the both of us if we weren’t together,” said Bracken, who has played on the same team with Busso ever since they were teammates on an all-star team as sixth graders.

The two seniors have remained on the scene ever since, playing side by side. They are entering their fourth season as varsity starters.

“It doesn’t seem like that long ago, honestly, at all,” Busso said after she was reminded of her entrance to the varsity scene. “… It all seems like yesterday.”

One thing Busso and Bracken didn’t forget was what it felt like to be the youngest players on the team. That has affected their leadership roles this year as the team’s most senior members, the only two remaining players from that 2010 team.

“Since me and Nicole were the youngest on the team, we both understand that,” Bracken said. “Nicole always gives back to the younger girls. She says: ‘Hi, I’m Nicole. If you have any questions, ask me.’ ”

Busso said: “The freshmen, specifically, are so open with me, and I love that. I’m not trying to be a big, scary senior. That’s not the mentality behind us. We want them to be able to come up to us and to ask us questions.”

That’s just one of the qualities Southold/Greenport coach Lori Marra likes in Busso, who has been a regular, consistent contributor for the Clippers.

“She knows first base,” Marra said. “She’s been playing first base for a long time. She’s not just good at it, she has experience with it. It’s a spot she’s really confident in. She also has a good bat. She’s a pretty well-rounded player.”

Busso was introduced to softball at a young age. She played T-ball and Little League. Her instinct and quick reactions made first base a natural position for her.

“I always had a love for softball,” she said during an interview before Tuesday’s indoor practice at Southold High School. “Honestly, it’s just kind of natural. I’ve grown up playing sports. I can’t imagine my life next year without any of them.”

The Clippers may be reluctant to ponder what life will be like without Busso, who is known for giving all her effort all the time.

Busso said her junior high school coach, Bev Sage, praised her for being the best first baseman she ever coached.

Busso never sat out a softball game for the Clippers because of injury. In her sophomore season she missed some games while she went on a school trip to Europe. Other than that, she has been a regular in Southold/Greenport’s lineup.

Although Southold/Greenport had a rough season last year, going 1-15, Busso played well. “I had a pretty good season,” she said. “We didn’t have the bats last year, either, but I had some nice hits. I had a home run. I hit a triple against Mattituck. I had some hits that were pretty helpful during the season.”

Last season, Busso typically batted third or fourth in the order.

“She’s around there,” Marra said. “She’s also fast, so I have to keep that in mind. She runs the bases well. She has that aggressive, smart running mentality.”

During games, Busso said, she can be loud when she has to be. “I’m vocal and very loud and, I don’t know, I’m just always that voice behind everyone, cheering, just positive energy, trying to keep everyone up,” she said.

But it is Busso’s attitude off the field as well that has been noticed and appreciated.

“Nicole is a very generous player,” Bracken said. “She’s very humble as an athlete. She doesn’t expect the praise at the end, and when she doesn’t get the most recognition, she’s never upset by that because she’s such a team player, and I think that’s a great asset to the team.”

Busso recognizes that she is fortunate to have so many high school games under her belt. She prefers not to consider the end of that playing career, which is just beyond the horizon.

“That’s crazy to think about,” she said. “I don’t even like thinking about it. I don’t want it to end any time soon, so I’m hoping we can pick it up, get to the playoffs and see how well we can do.”

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03/13/13 12:00pm
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Caitlin Grilli played shortstop last season for Southold/Greenport. Coach Lori Marra believes Grilli could play third base.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Caitlin Grilli played shortstop last season for Southold/Greenport. Coach Lori Marra believes Grilli could play third base.

Two thousand and twelve was hardly a banner year for high school softball on the North Fork. Southold/Greenport and Mattituck combined for a meager two wins, one win apiece. The good thing about that for both teams, though, is there is pretty much only one direction for them to go: up.

“I do feel that way,” said Lori Marra, who is in her second year as Southold/Greenport’s coach. “I’m hoping that we can only go up.”

It helps the Clippers (1-15 last year) that they lost only two players to graduation. One of them was Alexis Reed, the team’s most valuable player who held the starting third base position for three years.

Who will play third this year remains a question. “I have some ideas about what we’re going to be doing with third base,” said Marra.

Caitlin Grilli, Jessica Rizzo and Skye Gillispie battled over the shortstop position last year. “I also have confidence that they can also play third, but Sarah Tuthill is definitely somebody that I’m thinking for third base,” said Marra. She noted that a couple of other players have expressed an interest in playing third base, too, because they know it’s an open position.

The other question marks are in the outfield.

“I think for us a big component is our outfield, just having girls who are solid out there who can read the ball and get the ball in fast,” said Marra.

Leah LaFreniere and Alexandra Small played in the outfield last year, but Marra said she is not sure if she will leave them there or pull them into the infield. Irene Raptopoulos and Willow Sutton are outfield possibilities, too.

Figuring out who will play where is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle.

“It is,” Marra agreed. “It’s just a matter of figuring out which player fits the pieces.”

The other change for Southold/Greenport will be behind the plate, with Wendy Peterson taking over at catcher. She will catch pitches from fellow senior Courtney O’Sullivan, who returns as the team’s No. 1 pitcher.

The Clippers are led by two four-year starters, first baseman Nicole Busso and second baseman Kim Bracken. They are both seniors.

Joining the team’s nine returning players are five newcomers. Among them are Brandi Gonzalez and Jamie Grigonis. Marra said their positions are undetermined.

“We’re just taking one piece of the game at a time and gradually putting it all together right now,” Marra said. “One of our biggest things is them having that confidence that they can compete with these other teams. Once they grasp that concept, I really do think that they have it in them, and that competitive drive can take over.”

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | The state of pitcher Sara Perkins' left knee could be critical to Mattituck's success this year.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | The state of pitcher Sara Perkins’ left knee could be critical to Mattituck’s success this year.

The feeling that better days are ahead can be sensed at Mattituck’s practices. Kelly Pickering, who coached the Tuckers for two years before Rick Hinrichs took over from her for the past two years, is back in charge of the team. Mattituck, which went 8-27 during Pickering’s first two years, is looking to bounce back from a 1-16 season. Pickering said things are “definitely looking up. If Sara [Perkins] can remain healthy, that would be a big bonus for us.”

Indeed, the status of Perkins’ left knee is a great concern for the Tuckers. Mattituck’s No. 1 pitcher saw her 2012 season come to an end in mid-April because of knee trouble, one of a series of injuries that sabotaged the team’s season. The right-hander said her knee is fine now and she is looking forward to a full senior season.

A healthy Perkins would be a plus for a team that is light on numbers. Mattituck has only 11 players, and that includes junior left fielder Sam Perino, who has mononucleosis and hasn’t practiced yet.

At the same time, however, eight of those 11 players are seniors.

“All my bases are covered except my numbers,” said Pickering.

The projected lineup has Brittany Tumulty catching, Courtney Ficner playing first base, Cassie Pelan at second base, Melissa Siegfried at shortstop, Alexa Orlando at third base and Alex Chowbay in center field. The left field and right field positions are open. Pickering said it looks like Lisa Angell, the relief pitcher, will play left field, with Sydney Goy or Jackie Jones going to right field.

“They’ve looked pretty good,” Pickering said. “Melissa has grown, Alexa Orlando has grown.”

Chowbay, who transferred to the school last year when she first joined the team, “has been a great, great asset to the program,” Pickering said. “She’s going to be a good team leader, a field leader.”

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03/11/13 5:00pm
03/11/2013 5:00 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Garrett Malave, a freshman in his third varsity year, heads Mattituck’s all-underclassmen singles lineup.

It’s nice to have a good, reliable singles lineup. To have a good, reliable singles lineup that is young is even better still.

That is what the Mattituck High School boys tennis team is blessed with, four young singles players — three freshmen and a sophomore. The singles lineup remains intact from last year. Garrett Malave plays first singles, Parker Tuthill is slotted at second singles, Andrew Young holds the third singles position, and Thomas Chatin is at No. 4.

“They’re all good players,” said Mike Huey, who is in his 37th year as the team’s coach.

And their stock is rising.

“They’re a year older, a year more mature, quicker and physically stronger,” said Huey.

Malave, Tuthill and Young, the sophomore, all went 11-1 during the regular season. Malave and Tuthill, who are both already entering their third varsity season, were both all-league selections. Last year Malave reached the Suffolk County Conference IV quarterfinals before losing to Jeremy Dubin of Southampton, the conference champion.

“They became more match tough,” Huey said of his singles players.

Mattituck, which went 12-1 last year, its sole loss coming to The Ross School in the first round of the county team tournament, may be the favorite to finish first in League VIII this year.

“I believe that we’re going to be the team to beat in League VIII,” said Huey, whose team will face formidable opponents such as William Floyd, Longwood and Rocky Point. “I think we match up very well with the other teams in our league, but we have to play good tennis. We can’t just show up and expect to win. We have to play good tennis.”

Less than a full week into preseason practice, the doubles teams had not been determined. Among the pool of doubles players to choose from are seniors James Rabkevich, Dan Salice, Steve Urwand and junior Kevin Schwartz. Huey said he also has four good prospects who played for the junior varsity team last year: juniors Charles Hickox, Tyler Rozhen, Nick Rabkevich (who is James’ brother) and Jake Nolan.

The coach said, “The group of juniors coming up from the JV are going to round out the lineup very nicely.”

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Devyn Standish is the early favorite to emerge as Southold/Greenport's new first singles player.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Devyn Standish is the early favorite to emerge as Southold/Greenport’s new first singles player.

Preseason practices are a logistical challenge for Southold/Greenport coach Andrew Sadowski, who puts a good deal of planning into his practice schedule. “You can’t wing it,” he said.

With cold, inclement weather to deal with and only four courts to play on at Southold High School, Sadowski keeps his players moving by splitting the group in half. While one half plays on the courts, the other half goes indoors for agility, conditioning and strength work.

Because of bad weather, the Clippers (3-9 last year) were able to hold only three and a half outdoor practices during the first week of preseason training.

The second week of practice is a big one. Sadowski said he would like to have his lineup in place by Thursday, but acknowledged that it is possible he may even be making such decisions as late as next Tuesday, the day before the team’s season-opening match against Center Moriches.

Of course, the most obvious question to be addressed is who will succeed Josh Robinson, who had been the team’s first singles player for the last two of his three years on the team and is now a freshman playing for Springfield College (Mass.). The early favorite is Devyn Standish, an all-league senior who played second singles last season. Another senior, David O’Day, is in contention for the top spot, “and David O’Day is right on his heels,” said Sadowski.

Challenge matches will determine lineup positions. James Shine, a senior who played fourth singles last year, should be somewhere in the mix. Three juniors — Will Richter, Dylan Stromski and Drew Sacher — played doubles last year. Another junior, Gary Prieto, was a doubles player as well, but has shown an interest in playing for a singles position, said Sadowski.

“You never know how those challenge matches are going to go,” said the coach.

One player who will not be in the picture is Brian Hallock. The junior, one of the team’s top doubles players, suffered injuries in a snowboarding accident, including a fractured right arm, said Sadowski.

“I think we’re going to be solid competitively all the way through,” Sadowski said. “I still have doubles teams to figure and who’s going to step up and fill in and be the third and fourth singles [players]?”

Sadowski said it is important for his team to have the proper mindset once the season starts. “I think the big thing is we start the season off playing with confidence; win or lose, we retain a sense of confidence in ourselves,” he said. “The goal that we’ve set is certainly to be competitive in all our matches.”

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Featured Story
05/04/17 9:01pm
05/04/2017 9:01 PM

It was a celebration 20 years in the making, and the Southold/Greenport high school softball team was making up for lost time. So, the Clippers celebrated and celebrated, and then celebrated some more.

They screamed. They hugged. They danced. They threw confetti.

03/05/13 2:09pm
03/05/2013 2:09 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold/Greenport catcher Wendy Peterson during Monday's practice.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold/Greenport catcher Wendy Peterson during Monday’s practice.

It was only minutes after their 2012 high school softball season had ended — a 1-15 season at that — and Southold/Greenport players, brimming with optimism, were already talking excitedly about the season to come.

That season is almost here. On Monday, the Clippers hit the chilly outdoors for their first practice.

“They look motivated and they look ready to go,” the team’s second-year coach, Lori Marra, said.

Perhaps an asterisk should accompany that 1-15 record. Southold/Greenport had an extremely young team last year, with some players having made the huge leap from junior high school softball to the varsity team, skipping the junior varsity level entirely. This year’s squad is just plain young, led by four seniors: second baseman Kim Bracken, first baseman Nicole Busso, pitcher Courtney O’Sullivan and catcher Wendy Peterson.

On the plus side, younger players like shortstop Jessica Rizzo, shortstop Caitlin Grilli, outfielder Alexandra Small, outfielder Leah LaFreniere and shortstop Skye Gillispie all bring valuable playing experience at the varsity level. The only two players lost to graduation last year were catcher Erin Creedon and third baseman Alexis Reed.

“We’re going to keep pushing forward and see where the season takes us,” said Busso, who is a four-year varsity player along with Bracken. “There’s a lot of positive energy being thrown around, and [the younger players are] not really as shy as I expected. They’re very open. They’re asking questions, so that’s a good thing.”

One of the biggest questions facing the Clippers this year is whether or not they will hit better. Bringing runs home across the plate is a high priority.

“In order to win games, you got to put runs on the board,” Marra said. “We definitely need to get our bats going. We worked a lot last year, building, building, building, but this year I’m hoping that we can just take what we did last year and just kind of move forward, have more confidence. Confidence is a big factor.”

Bracken, for one, sounds like she has more confidence in her left knee, which was operated on last November. “I’m still wearing my knee braces, but I’m pretty confident that I’m going to last the whole season,” she said.

The Clippers also took more than a single win from last season.

“I think last year with our record, each of us learned how to take a loss and how to look at the positives more than the negatives of losing a game,” said Busso.

Chilly weather or not, the first practice marked a new beginning for a team hoping to make progress.

“Everyone’s optimistic; they’re excited to play,” Marra said. “It is an exciting time.”

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Featured Story
05/02/17 8:57pm
05/02/2017 8:57 PM

One more win, and they’re in.

The Southold/Greenport high school softball team could clinch a playoff berth as soon as Thursday when it plays in Port Jefferson. That’s especially significant because the Clippers haven’t reached the playoffs since 1997.

Featured Story
04/18/17 9:33pm
04/18/2017 9:33 PM

The last time Southold/Greenport reached the high school softball playoffs, the current Clippers had not even been born. It was decades ago, all the way back in 1997.

That string of 19 playoff-less years may finally come to an end this year. Judging by the way the Clippers have been playing, not only do the playoffs look likely, but a Suffolk County Class C championship is a real possibility and who knows beyond that.