Westhampton Beach Softball Team Is Back With a Vengeance - 27 East

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Westhampton Beach Softball Team Is Back With a Vengeance

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Freshman starting pitcher Addison Celi. RON ESPOSITO

Freshman starting pitcher Addison Celi. RON ESPOSITO

Sophomore catcher and outfielder Antonella Russo. RON ESPOSITO

Sophomore catcher and outfielder Antonella Russo. RON ESPOSITO

Freshman Katie Burke returns to third base. RON ESPOSITO

Freshman Katie Burke returns to third base. RON ESPOSITO

The Westhampton Beach softball team enters the season with newfound energy. DANA SHAW

The Westhampton Beach softball team enters the season with newfound energy. DANA SHAW

Desirée Keegan on Mar 29, 2023

The Westhampton Beach softball team ended last season hungry for more.

After early postseason exits the past two years, the young Hurricanes are back and looking to make an even bigger statement this time around. They’re here to play.

“Everyone wants it, and everyone knows that this season could be the breakout season for us,” freshman starting pitcher Addison Celi said. “It’s going to be challenging, but nothing is impossible for this team.”

The Hurricanes proved that, going eight-for-nine down the stretch last year, needing to nearly win out to earn a playoff berth, which they did. Westhampton Beach had entered spring break with a 1-7 record.

“One of the things we talked about this year is getting off to a good start,” head coach Jeff Doroski said. “And while that second half showed the character of these young ladies — being able to accomplish something like that — we want to learn from those experiences. It will only help them as we move forward.”

To make sure that downturn doesn’t happen again, the girls went right back to work after the Thanksgiving break.

“I’m very confident in all of these girls who are so dedicated to this sport,” sophomore first baseman Rylee McGinnness said. “We don’t want to get into the same situation as last season, so we’re training hard and with great communication and chemistry, we’re already off to a better start.”

McGinness led the team in hitting last year, and smacked an RBI-single to help pad the lead in an outbracket elimination win over Hauppauge. Celi pitched a gem that same day, striking out 10 in a complete game effort.

“Addison Celi is tenacious,” Doroski said. “She works so hard to be as good as she is at such a young age, and that’s contagious. Everyone else wants to be able to step up and go with her.”

Junior pitcher and third baseman Rosalie Judd also joins the ranks after splitting time between the varsity and junior varsity teams last season. Returning is sophomore Antonella Russo, who moves behind the plate after seeing time in left field, and junior first baseman and outfielder Katie Baker.

“She is physically a very gifted athlete,” Doroski said of Baker. “She has some serious pop in her bat, and she wants to be even better than she was last year.”

New to the group are freshmen Kayla Blair and Mackenzie Herrera, who will both see time in the outfield and at shortstop and on the mound, respectively. McGinness said Blair is already making an impact, replacing one of four seniors and a longtime key contributor in Allie Parascandola.

“We’re excited about the group, and we’re excited about the future,” Doroski said. “We feel good about what we’ve accomplished to this point, but they want more.”

What the Hurricanes say helps them is the fact that most have played together since their Little League days, and also compete on high-level travel teams. McGinness, for instance, battles alongside Russo, junior second baseman Ashley Erbis and freshman third baseman Katie Burke for the Long Island Heat.

“Having a lot of girls who are experienced and passionate about playing is electrifying, and the bond this team has is unmatched,” Celi said. “We know that we are there for each other and we get excited for one another, whether it be on the field or off.”

Doroski said he’s fortunate to work with the kind of girls who work year-round on their craft, but added it’s also important in a tough league with top programs like Mt. Sinai, Sayville and Miller Place, who also boast year-round players on their rosters.

“It’s keeping them motivated and focused to get the most out of our time out on the practice field,” he said. “We just need to make sure that when we show up, whether it’s on our field at home or someone else’s, we’re ready to play. We can’t wait until the third or fourth inning to push the start button and hope that it works out.”

Celi said the mental aspect has been a focus for her own game, as well as the team.

“We’ve been doing a lot of catching, fielding and hitting drills,” the freshman said, “but the game is so mental, so it’s important to stay strong in that way, especially for me on the mound.”

McGinness said attention has also been placed on defense, putting girls in different spots to ensure less runs off errors. She said the addition of an assistant coach position, filled by Cristian Lynch, has also been monumental.

“Coach Lynch provides a new approach on infield situations and some new drills to bolster our defense,” she said. “This has already impacted our performance in a big way, and is helping the girls in new positions gain confidence in their game.”

Celi said the energy level has been different since the first day of tryouts.

“Every girl was just so hyped to be there, and our coaches were, too. We all really believe in ourselves and what we can do,” she said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time and see where we go with it, but our resiliency and our grit should take us far. We never give up, we just kept fighting.”

The freshman said that’s been true time and time again, especially against top competition, which she said only make her Hurricanes stronger.

“The better the team we play, the better we get. We learn a lot from them,” Celi said. “Every team has its weaknesses, but it’s our ability to build off of and grow from them that will help us improve, and that’s just what this group has done for as long as I can remember.”

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