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.”
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.”