Spring Softball Preview: Stella Maris Aims For Title
By Elio Velez
Stella Maris has inched ever so closer in the past two years in trying to reach their goal to win the Brooklyn/ Queens CHSAA diocesan title.
Lady Flippers head coach Jim De Angelo has had a bird's eye view of the improvement his team has made.
In 2005, Stella Maris made it to the semifinals but lost in a 1-0, extra inning thriller to St. Francis Prep. In 2006, DeAngelo watched from the Stella Maris dugout as St. Francis Prep again dashed his team's dreams, winning the title in a two game sweep last May.
The title loss further fueled DeAngelo to inspire his team in their first practice on March 3 and says that they can finish off their climb to the summit and win a diocesan title.
"I told them we're knocking on the door and getting one step closer. We want to win the Brooklyn/Queens crown," DeAngelo said.
"We need to want it, taste it and take it to that next level."
Stella Maris will face quality competition on most days. St. Francis Prep, the defending champions, return pretty much intact but also Mary Louis and Archbishop Molloy will also be very competitive.
The season has already begun and Stella Maris has gotten off to a 1-2 start after losing 4-1 to St. Francis Prep on Monday. DeAngelo is not worried that they allowed all four unearned runs on three team errors and a wild pitch.
DeAngelo points out to recent history that Stella Maris can bounce back to put together an impressive playoff run.
Though they finished just one game above .500 in the regular season at 8-7, they defeated Fontbonne Hall and Archbishop Molloy in the playoffs to advance to the title game.
A strong senior core of star pitcher Alexa Rosella, who is fielding offers from several Division II colleges and catcher Nicole Rescigno are among six seniors that will be counted on to do their fair shore of the work.
Rosella will be the starting pitcher on most days but Caitlin Dasaro will have another year under her belt to help out the rotation.
DeAngelo will miss the departed Alyce Miraglia and Jackie Frank, two members of the 2006 Stella Maris outfield who has since graduated. Stella Maris will have a brand new outfield comprised of former junior varsity players who will have plenty of time to learn and grow. The mix of old and new into a cohesive unit is one of DeAngelo's top priorities.
If that does happen, then DeAngelo knows that the results will be positive. The main goal, a title victory, just might be achieved this year.
"We're like a racehorse that comes out slow at the gate. But at the end, it finishes fast at the end and wins the race, says DeAngelo.
"We hope to do that."
Beach Channel Lady Dolphins
Harvey Pyser has always felt comfortable at Beach Channel High School. For 25 years, he was the school's athletic director and is still serving as the head boys' bowling coach.
In between the first 25 years he spent at the school, Pyser also lead the softball team to great success on the diamond. Fast forward to the present as Pyser returns to the head coaching job, replacing Robert Attonito.
"I coached here for 10 years and When I was here we competed for championships. We went to the finals a couple of times and that was before there was an 'A' and a 'B' division," Pyser said.
"We had a lot of all-city kids here that we could produce. Now the difference is we're teaching kids how to play."
Times are different. The Dolphins are currently struggling in their second straight season in the PSAL Queens '2A' Division.
They were 2-12 last season and this season may not be much different. Bayside pitcher Nicole Marra handed the Dolphins their third straight loss, 22-0, as she delivered a 5 inning no hit performance.
Beach Channel will face fierce competition, and also have to handle the many miles they'll travel this season to outposts like Cardozo and Bryant via public transportation. It's a tall order for sure for the present.
Catcher/pitcher Felicia Goldenberg, who Pyser says is the Dolphins best overall player, are definte bright spots. Mary Finger, a freshman pitcher should improve with time.
The Dolphins are very young in many positions but Pyser is optimistic that the end product should eventually turn out very well in the Dolphins favor.
"They're enthusiastic and they want to learn. That's the key," Pyser says.
"I remember a old saying from an basketball coach. It's not the skill, it's the will. If these girls have the will, as the years go on, they will become a good team. How good? Depends on a lot of factors but they will be good in the years to come."
Far Rockaway Lady Seahorses
Les Sabbah does enjoy the spring season. When the temperatures are warm, it's a comfort and a big plus as he's on the field coaching the Far Rockaway Lady Seahorses.
As the calendar flips to April, Mother Nature has become unpredictable in the past few weeks, making conditions a bit harsh on the field. The weather isn't the reason why the Lady Seahorses are 0-3 but it sure doesn't feel too good when the Seahorses are shivering on the field.
"The first game we played was so cold that both teams begged the umpires to end the game," Sabbah recalled as August Martin defeated Far Rockaway 19-18 in extra innings on March 26.
As the weather has changed, so has the makeup of the roster. Only one player, Shelean Palmer, returns from last season. An inexperienced team will be learning on the fly against such tough PSAL Queens 'B' divisional teams Springfield Gardens and Queens High School of Teaching. QSHT, who won the division last year at 15-1, remains strong ever after a mind-boggling 50-0 victory over Campus Magnet on March 26. That is not a misprint.
Sabbah remains optimistic. Not just for his team but for the temperature to rise as well.
"Not many girls on the team have much experience or any at all. For the most part, it's going to be an instructional league," Sabbah admitted. "As long as they have fun and learn, I hope they'll keep their interest in playing."
The first girls' soccer peninsula matchup will take place on April 12 as host Beach Channel (1-0) faces off against Far Rockaway (2-0) at 4 p.m. The Dolphins beat Campus Magnet 8-0 on March 27. Far Rockaway also beat Campus Magnet, 2-1, on March 29.