HALF HOLLOW HILLS, New York, Mar. 19
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
The defending Suffolk County champions are back: Half Hollow Hills High School West has set its softball roster and the girls are ready to get back onto the diamond. One year after winning the school’s first-ever softball championship, the team is looking towards its defense and a “one game at a time” mentality to find continued success, head coach Bryan Dugan said.
“Hopefully we won’t skip a beat,” said Dugan, who has assumed the role of head coach as Bill Mitaritonna steps into the role of assistant coach. “All of the girls have been out there working hard and practicing. Every single girl is going to play an important role for us.”
One-year removed from the Suffolk title, the Colts have graduated just one member of last year’s team: Francesca Casalino, who now plays for Yale University. This year, Alexis Kleet will be taking the mound for the Colts, and Dugan is looking forward to seeing the junior unleash her arsenal of six different pitches.
“She’s put in a ton of time during the offseason and has command of all her pitches,” Dugan said.
Elsewhere, Hills West’s strong defense is returning virtually unchanged. Alyse McAlpine, a junior, did not commit a single error last year at second base and will look to continue that once again alongside Gabrielle Casalino at third base, and Nicole Graber at shortstop; a Colt to be named at a later date will take first base. Behind the plate, Alexandra Parkas will return this year as a sophomore and the trio of Renée Pino, Rose Cipoletti and Sarah Auricchio will man the Colts’ outfield.
“As sophomores, last year, the way these girls were able to come together and support Fran was incredible,” Dugan said. “That’s what we’re looking to continue this year. We lost our pitcher, but every other position is returning with at least one varsity season and playoff experience under their belts.”
Samantha Katz is Hills West’s lone senior this season, and newcomer Jillian Weinstein joins the Colts as a freshman. Amanda Bentz, Danielle Blaustein, Nicole Rivera and Julia Toscano will also return from last year’s squad.
When the team will actually return to the diamond, however, has been a question the Colts’ coaching staff has been asking for the last few weeks. Weather and lingering snow have forced most softball programs to practice indoors while the fields heal.
The Colts looked to change that, though, after press time on Monday with a scrimmage scheduled against Longwood and then another at Half Hollow Hills High School East on Thursday at 3 p.m. The regular season is set to begin with a trip to Centereach on March 27 at 4 p.m.
Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills
(Thursday, Mar. 19, 2015; A26)