COMMACK, New York, May 21
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Though they fought back until the very last out, the Cougars of Commack’s softball team were eliminated from the 2015 Suffolk Class AA playoffs on May 18.
Entering the postseason as the no. 2 overall seed, the Cougars ultimately fell 5-4 in a major upset to no. 15 Half Hollow Hills West, the defending Suffolk County champions.
The Colts (11-10) got an early 2-0 lead on Commack (17-4), but the Cougars responded to tie the score at 2-2 in the fifth inning. Hills West pulled ahead, once again, with a 1-run advantage, but Commack responded to tie the game at 3-3 as the two teams entered the seventh inning.
In that inning, however, the Colts jumped out to a lead they’d ultimately never relinquish as they brought the score to 5-3. Commack tried to come back once more as they brought the score within one and had the tying run on second base, but couldn’t manage to get the run across the plate. The Cougars were eliminated from the playoffs by the Colts for the second-straight season.
While the loss undoubtedly stung, the Cougars have much to be proud of this season as they claimed a League I title thanks to a mix of solid veteran leadership and young talent. Of the 10 two-game series the Cougars played in League I this season, they swept eight of them – Commack dropped two games to Patchogue-Medford and one game to Sachem East.
Part of that success can be attributed to Commack’s core group of seniors: Kim Cella, Gabriella Gambino, Jillian McFadzen, Nicole Michael, Alyssa Persich and Christina Rayfield.
In her senior season, Persich managed a team-high nine wins this season as she split the team’s pitching workload with Alyssa Bluethgen, a talented junior pitcher. Persich was also one of Commack’s key hitters from the plate – she homered once this season.
Young talent like Bluethgen will likely keep Commack amongst Suffolk’s best next season as players like Michelle Principe, a sophomore designated hitter, and Gianna Venuti, a freshman, continue to develop under the leadership of head coach Harold Cooley III and assistant coaches Harold Cooley Jr. and Nicole Hagenah.
As Cooley III said before this season began, though, Commack continues to seek relief from a plague of early postseason exits. Though the school has been a contender for the last several seasons, Commack hasn’t been able to fully get over the hump, as its only softball Suffolk title and Long Island championship came in 1989.
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Record
(Thursday, May 28, 2015; A26)