In high school softball, making plays on catchable fly balls is critical. It can mean the difference between winning and losing.
“You can’t let anything easy go,” said Toni Esposito.
That is why Esposito doesn’t from her position in Southold/Greenport’s center field.
Esposito covers a lot of ground in the outfield, where the center fielder is understood to have first crack at anything she can get to. In Southold’s 5-2 loss to Mattituck on Thursday, the junior made three catches, including one in right-field territory and one in which she charged in furiously to snag a flare on the lip of the outfield, just beyond second base.
“She’s been making great catches like that every single game,” said Southold/Greenport’s new coach, Jessica Fleury.
Esposito, who is typically flanked by Mercedes Edwards and Sam Baldwin in the corner outfield positions, is one of the best players on the team and may be the fastest. “It would be between her and Grace,” Fleury said of second baseman Grace Syron.
Last year Esposito was an all-league player, the League VI rookie of the year and Southold’s most valuable player. She has played center field, a glamour position, since she was a freshman and enjoys it.
“I like it,” she said. “I get to run and I just control my outfield and it’s great.”
When asked what she values the most about Esposito, who is also the Clippers’ leadoff hitter, Fleury said: “She’s always positive. She’s never negative, no matter what happens.”
That positivity carries onto the field. When a fly ball is hit her way, Esposito doesn’t bring any doubts with her as she begins her pursuit.
“I just go for anything I can,” she said. “I don’t go into it thinking that I’m not going to get it. I always go into it like, ‘OK, I got this.’ I just do whatever life throws at me.”
Spoken like a true center fielder.
Photo caption: Southold/Greenport center fielder Toni Esposito caught three fly balls during her team’s 5-2 loss to Mattituck on Thursday. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)