For a new varsity coach like Lori Marra of Southold/Greenport, every little bit helps, and that includes the weather, which has been cooperative for high school softball teams since preseason practices started last week.
“You can’t complain about the weather,” Marra said. “It actually does feel like spring.”
The relatively mild weather is no small thing, either. It has allowed teams to practice outdoors instead of in a gym.
For the past three years as the Clippers’ junior varsity coach, Marra said her teams spent the first couple of weeks practicing indoors. “Just being able to be outside and actually on a softball field, rather than cooped up in a rainy environment in the gym, I think that automatically sets us up better than we have been in the past,” she said.
Describing herself as a coach, Marra said: “I like to think that I am pretty straightforward with the girls from what I expect from them. I’m not really a yeller and stuff like that. I don’t get too crazy with it, but I think they do know where my passion is.”
Marra, who takes over the varsity reigns from Cindy Sepenoski, has her work cut out for her. In 2008, Sepenoski became the Clippers’ third coach in as many years. Since then the team has gone 12-58. That includes one winless season in 2010 and a one-win season in 2008. Last year the team went 5-12. Southold/Greenport has not played in a playoff game since 1997.
But the optimism was flowing on Tuesday during the team’s eighth practice.
“They’re showing they want to work hard, and as long as they keep that up and we can keep doing this together, I think it will be a great season,” said Marra.
Southold/Greenport returns five players in Kim Bracken, Nicole Busso, Erin Creedon, Courtney O’Sullivan and Alexis Reed.
A big plus is the fact that most of the team’s infield remains intact. Creedon caught last year, Busso played first base, Bracken second base, and Reed third base. Reed was an all-league selection. Bracken received the coach’s award.
“Alexis has always done a really good job,” Marra said. “Not only is she a good athlete all around — she is clearly a very good softball player — but she is always talking to everybody, always has something positive to say.”
Reed, Creedon and Simone Droege are the team’s only seniors. O’Sullivan, a pitcher, is one of the four juniors, along with Bracken, Busso and catcher Wendy Peterson.
The other eight team members are underclassmen: Kayleigh Commins, Skye Gillispie, Caitlin Grilli, Leah LaFreniere, Briana Pagano, Jessica Rizzo, Alexandra Small and Kendra King.
“It’s almost like a new team,” Marra said. “We’re going to be young for a while, but I think that’s great.”
With roles remaining to be defined, Marra said the focus now is on fundamentals.
“Even though we’re relatively young, I think there’s a lot of talent,” the coach said. “It will be nice see them come together during the season and see what we can do.”
Asked what would make this a successful season for her, Marra laughed as she replied: “I can’t say that I wouldn’t hope for wins. Wins are always nice.”
The Clippers will get a chance to post their first win next Tuesday when they will open their season with a road game against Pierson/Bridgehampton.
“It will be exciting,” Marra said. “Sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to feel until 15 minutes before it happens. You think you’re all good, but I’m definitely excited, I think a little anxious, but it will be exciting.”