By Benito Vila
The toughest task for the middle school baseball and softball coaches was making teams, the seventh grade class having an abundance of players in each sport and the eighth grade class too few. In the end, each sport resolved their “numbers” dilemmas differently.
Baseball played a combined seventh and eighth grade schedule with two evenly drafted teams and softball fielded an eighth grade team and a seventh grade team, a few girls playing “up” to fill out the older team’s roster. And both solutions worked out well if final records are any indication of success, the baseball teams going 12-0 and 9-1 and the softball teams finishing 9-0 and 5-6.
Special education teacher Marc Schimmer coached the eighth grade Lady Whalers. In re-capping the season, he said, “From my vantage point in the dugout, I thought the team had a very good season. Last spring as seventh graders they were winless and this year we were very competitive in all our games and completed a 5-6 season, two games being wiped out by rain.”
“We were a team that always looked forward to game days, and with able coaching assistance from John Romeo, who volunteered his time and effort, we worked hard from day one to improve both our individual and team skills, defensively and offensively.”
Coach Schimmer cited wins over Mattituck (12-10), Westhampton (10-8) and Hampton Bays (18-6) as highlights of the season. Seventh grader Bridget Canavan pitched most often with eighth grader MariCarmen Chavez filling in in relief. Platooning at catcher and second base were Liz Grigonis and Emma Romeo, Coach Schimmer noting “their strong offense and their able leadership.”
Completing a “solid” infield were starters Lindsey Cox (1B), Julia Schiavoni (SS) and Kelly Koehne (3B). Also on the roster were Pierson’s Alissa Clermont, Carli Fischer and Sydnee McKie-Senior and Bridgehampton’s Tatyana Dawson and Jennah Hochstedler.
High school physical education instructor Shannon Judge led the seventh grade team to a 9-0 mark, but credited that success to her girls, saying, “What made the difference was their unbelievable work ethic. They were one of the best teams I’ve ever coached.”
Coach Judge found she had tremendous pitching depth, Ashley Nill, Katherine Matthers, Annie Osiecki, May Evjen and India Hemby all getting work inside the circle. Lily Kunzeman and Sol Varela emerged as able catchers.
The team’s starting infield featured Paige DePetris (1B), May Evjen (2B), Kasey Gilbride (SS) and Annie Osiecki (3B). Backing up those players in the outfield or off the bench were Diana Rozzi, Eilis Sheil, Nell Dobbs, Marley Holder, Kristian Washburn and Katy Koehne.
Starting the season with just seven eighth graders, an inexperienced group coming from Bridgehampton and a pile of seventh graders, there were doubts on how the middle school season would work out. A pair of workouts supervised by physical education instructors Jonathan Tortorella and Fred Marienfeld preceded a “draft” to create two even teams.
Given the final records, 12-0 and 9-1, it seems that both coaches were able to share the talent as well as inspire smart play. An end-of-season “Red versus Black” game may have provided some motivation to the boys and the coaches, but rain soaked up all the open dates and no one will ever know which team was “better”.
Coach Marienfeld’s undefeated Red team played a full complement of games against East Hampton, Springs, Hampton Bays, Southold, Greenport, East Moriches and Montauk. Weather interfered with two of Coach Tortorella’s games and a lousy Saturday morning in East Hampton gave the Black team its only loss.
The Red team saw Forrest Loesch, Aaron Schiavoni and Ian Barrett become reliable starters on the mound with Schiavoni and Liam Doyle donning the gear behind the plate. Loesch, Schiavoni and Jackson Marienfeld proved to be the bats the boys looked to for big hits.
The Black team saw Jack Bori earn the majority of the catching duties with Colman Vila, Jake Bennett, Caleb Atkinson-Barnes, Kyle Sturmann and Tim Markowski sharing the pitching. Sturmann proved to be a dependable shortstop on defense while Bennett and Atkinson-Barnes brought home the most runs on offense