Clippers bring youthful optimism to first practice

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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