To say the Southampton softball team was upset at the end of last season would be an understatement.
The Lady Mariners won four of their final five games and finished with an 11-7 record, usually more than enough to qualify for the playoffs. But due to Section XI, the governing body of Suffolk County high school athletics, opting to go to a division and power-point system for the first time, Southampton didn’t have enough points to qualify for the Suffolk County Class A postseason.
The county has gone back to the typical league system for this season, though, meaning as long as teams finish with a .500 record or better, they’re in, and with a strong senior class returning, that’s music to the Lady Mariners’ ears.
“This year we do have a more favorable schedule and I feel like if we play defensive ball, and really get our bats going, we can compete against some of the stronger teams in our league,” Southampton head coach Tania Ciancio said.
The team will be lead by starting shortstop and leadoff hitter Taylor Pike, who batted .453 last season. She’ll be a key player for Southampton in all facets of the game, and with multiple extra base hits in Tuesday’s non-league game against Newfield, it’s clear she’s up for the challenge.
She’ll be joined by senior catcher Carly Cenzoprano, senior second baseman Hailey Dressler, and senior Leah Sellinger, who will be taking over the primary pitching duties from Samantha Wesnofske, who graduated last season. Sellinger is also a key bat in the lineup for the Lady Mariners, leading the team last season in batting average at .470. Brigid Grealish, a senior who hasn’t played in a few seasons, opted to play this season and will be a utility player.
Returning underclassmen include junior first baseman Emma Wesnofske, junior outfielder C.C. Wetter and sophomore outfielder Riley Zorko. Sophomore Anna Armandi is up from junior varsity, along with freshmen Ellie Avallone, Haley Thayer, Emily Steinbrecher and twin sisters Clare and Maggie Gabriele. Also new to the team this season is assistant coach Frank Amitrano, whom Ciancio is excited to have at her side.
Along with the change back to a league system, Southampton has dropped back down to Class B after being an A school the past few years. It will play in League VI with fellow B teams and one C team, Pierson/Bridgehampton. Babylon and Center Moriches look to be the two teams to beat early on, while Hampton Bays, Mattituck, Port Jefferson and Southold/Greenport make up the rest of the league.
Southampton played at Connetquot in a non-league game on Wednesday, and is scheduled to host East Hampton in a non-league game this Friday, March 22, at 4 p.m. It will open league play this Tuesday, March 26, at Mattituck at 4:30 p.m.