2005 Rockaway Spring Sports Preview
By Elio Velez
The Beach Channel Magical Mystery Tour ended at the PSAL ‘B’ Championship last year at Shea Stadium in the most heartbreaking of fashion. Down 6-5 in the top of the seventh, Gregory Perdriel lined out with two runners on to set up a game ending doubleplay and give Townsend Harris the victory.
The Dolphins’ ride to the championship as a #18 seed was over but they proved to be viable contenders. This year, the “B” League will be keeping an eye on the Dolphins, who were ranked by a city coaches’ poll as the pre-season #2 best team in the city.
As they look to return to the title game in June, the Dolphins have most of their roster intact at key positions.
“We got a good rotation with four of them that have experience,” head coach Tom Kazalski said of his pitching staff. Sophomore Daniel Rodriguez will lead the staff this season after winning key games as a starter and reliever in the 2004 playoffs.
“He has a good fastball, a sound curveball and he is a real professional,” Kazalski said.
Filling out the staff will be Charles Novak, who pitched effectively in 2004 even with a injured left shoulder. Victor Sanchez, who pitched five innings of no hit ball in a 14-0 win against Springfield Gardens last Wednesday, and Lemonte Attles will fill out the staff.
Attles, who will play CF when he is not pitching, Novak and Ernie Reyes will be the seniors looked to provide some pop in the middle of the lineup. Kieron Carter will have to pick the slack as the starting catcher this year. Key games for the Dolphins (2-0) to look for this year will be a rematch with Townsend Harris on April 15 and back to back games on May 2 and May 4 against Far Rockaway.
Far Rockaway Seahorses
Far Rockaway head coach Ken Hernandez has a burning desire to make the playoffs. He believes that the Seahorses have the tools to attempt a Beach Channel type run to a playoff berth and possible championship dreams.
“This team’s depth and experience the last four years should bring them together,” Hernandez said. “We want to walk away knowing that we got into the playoffs and possibly getting the chance to play for the championship.”
He’s very optimistic about his team even if the Seahorses didn’t qualify for the playoffs in 2004. There are 15 senior players on the roster and the experience coming back was also a promising sign that the PSAL coaches ranked them #7 in the pre-season.
Hernandez is counting on his team to gain the chemistry they need to be more consistent in the regular season. Though they defeated runner up Beach Channel and hanged tough in a defeat to Townsend Harris, the Seahorses still finished a disappointing 6-10 in 2004.
Felipe Santos will have to provide leadership on the mound and at third base this year according to Hernandez this season.
Catcher Raul Marrero, who hit .545 last season, may be the most dangerous hitter on the roster. Sherwin Sukhu and Anthony Nimmons will have to perform well as the tablesetters in the top of the lineup. The Seahorses (1-1) won 20-6 last Wednesday against Jamaica.
Newtown and Forest Hills have been the last two ‘B’ softball teams to win the championship. What both teams have in common is that they defeated Beach Channel. In the past few seasons, the Dolphins have breezed by their division opponents and going undefeated.
When it came to the playoffs last year, a talented squad was humiliated by Newtown 12-0 in the semifinals.
“They (Newtown) were a better team although we played terribly and that was upsetting. It’s not about winning to me, it’s about playing well,” head coach Robert Attonito said
“They played so badly and made so many mistakes that we didn’t put any pressure on them.”
Most of the talent has returned from those Queens Division title teams. Senior pitcher Jodi Vitale and windmiller Samantha Lebron will split the pitching duties. The hitting remains strong once again and Attonito is looking for freshman catcher Felicia Goldenberg to provide a spark.
It will be his job to get the players focused on getting to the ‘B’ title. Attonito will accept nothing less than that. “The biggest thing I told these girls is that if we don’t make it to the finals, this season is not successful. It’s time for us to get to finals,” Attonito said.
Far Rockaway Seahorses
Head coach Les Sabbah is very familiar with the squad he has this year. Most of those players, such as Shamar Stewartson, Natasha Sanchez and Shantee Goggins were stars on the basketball and the volleyball teams he coached. No formal introductions will be needed in most cases for Sabbah.
The Seahorses will have to rely on speed and athleticism to return to the playoffs. After finishing 8-8 in 2004, they were eliminated by Brooklyn Tech in the first round in 2004.
“We had a nice turnout of girls this year. We have a lot of kids coming back and we’re hopeful about the season,” Sabbah said.
Sabbah will be leaning on second baseman Natasha Sanchez, who went 4 for 4 and drove in 5 RBI in a 15-5 Seahorses (1-0) win over Hillcrest, to provide the offense. Patrice McKenzie will pitch but is more lethal with the bat as evidenced by her 6 RBI against Hillcrest.
The 5 foot 3 Stewartson’ blinding speed will chase down flyballs in centerfield and freshman Shantee Goggins will brings previous softball experience to first base.
Troy-Ann Bailey scored with 13 minutes left in the second half to give Far Rockaway a 1-0 soccer victory at Beach Channel last Wednesday. Dolphins’ goalie Lauren Carter made 15 saves to keep the game close.
Next week: We will have previews of more spring sports throughout the Rockaways.