Lady Sharks hoping third year is a charm

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The Eastport South Manor softball team will be returning an abundant amount of seniors this year and if everything pans out it should be another successful season for the Lady Sharks in 2010.

There are 10 seniors returning to this team along with one junior and four sophomores. ESM head coach Steve Giacolone has called up two players, junior Cassidie Watson and sophomore Natalie Vero, to shore up the bench. Giacolone said Watson and Vero are both utility players who can play both infield and outfield positions while Vero can pitch a little bit as well. Vero will most likely not see the circle much, if at all this season, being that she’s behind junior starting pitcher Catherine Havens and backup senior pitcher Chelsea Stumpo.

Havens is returning this season after compiling a 13-3 record last season with 116 strikeouts and a 1.23 ERA. Giacolone said that Havens has increased her velocity over the off-season, which will pair up well with an already solid changeup. Havens is also a threat in the batting order as a lefty-slap hitter and runs the bases very well.

Melanie Boccio returns for her senior season and will be Havens’s battery mate as starting catcher. She should hit somewhere in the middle of the lineup along with senior first baseman Brianna Clarke, who batted .456 last season, and was League V Player of the Year. Senior Chelsea Kull will return to shortstop and will provide some pop in the lineup along with fellow outfielders Amanda Brisson, Alexis Mortenson and junior Devin McKinnon. Amber Jones also returns to the team in her senior year after missing all of last season with an injured shoulder. Senior second baseman Ashley Mendez and junior third baseman Michelle Iannone round out the starting lineup for the Lady Sharks while Watson, Vero and seniors Alyssa Toth and Gina Petchonka round out the bench.

ESM won the League V title last season with a 16-2 league record, but was a Class AA school. The Lady Sharks defeated Patchogue/Medford in the opening round of the Class AA bracket last season, but then lost 4-2 to East Islip in the quarterfinals. Giacolone said since most of the team has been together for three years, many of the girls’ final chance to win a class title is this season and that’s what they want to accomplish.

Kings Park and Hauppauge, both teams that finished behind ESM in the standings last season with 14-4 records, are bringing back much of their players and should battle ESM for the league title this season. Sayville will make the jump up to League V this season after winning the League VI title last season with a 13-5 record.

Giacolone said that this year’s team will feature a little bit of everything, from good, aggressive baserunning to small ball to hitting for power.

“We want to tighten up the D a little bit more,” he said. “I think Catherine has improved from last year to this year. We obviously didn’t win it all so we have to get better in a lot of areas.”

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