After two lean years, the Oceanside softball team is close to turning the corner and regaining the form that resulted in a county championship three years ago. All they need now is a little more luck.
The Lady Sailors are 4-6 this year and have already matched their win total from each of the last two campaigns, but some tough conference losses in recent weeks have frustrated coach Carlo Quagliata and the team and prevented them from being near the top of the division past the halfway point of the season.
Oceanside’s record would be above .500 if not for two crushing losses late in games. On March 28, the Lady Sailors allowed two runs in the bottom of the seventh that ended with a 14-13 defeat to East Meadow. Eight days later, Long Beach scored three runs in the seventh to escape with an 11-10 win.
Oceanside also led at Farmingdale last Saturday before allowing six runs in the bottom of the fifth for an 8-4 loss. Quagliata said his young roster, which consists of two freshmen and seven sophomores, is still learning how to close out games.
“We had two awful losses,” Quagliata said of the East Meadow and Long Beach games. “That was two big games that we should have had. It’s a young team, definitely improved from last year.”
The offense has already posted four double-digit run games this spring, but hitting in the clutch is something Quagliata said the team needs to improve on. In the 8-4 loss at Farmingdale, the Lady Sailors left 11 runners on base and had the bases loaded with one out on two different occasions. In one of those instances, the Daler left fielder made a spectacular play in the field that could have resulted in a grand slam.
“It was just one of those days,” Quagliata lamented.
Sophomore pitchers Hallie Neufeld and Emma Cohen have two wins apiece and have relied on breaking and off-speed pitches for their successes. Neufeld allowed one run and seven hits while going the distance in the season-opening victory over South Side and Cohen had a complete-game shutout in a 10-0 win at East Rockaway on March 29.
“They’re battling,” Quagliata said of the hurlers. “Their strength is when they have these batters guessing. Hallie’s come a long way. She’s developed a drop and she’s got her off-speed this year. Emma’s best pitch is her change.”
Sophomore shortstop Emily Seaver has had the hot bat of late with home runs in consecutive games through Saturday’s action and three in her last five contests. Quagliata has also been impressed with freshman second baseman Courtney Murphy, who is “causing havoc” from the leadoff spot.
Despite the early-season struggles, Quagliata said that when his team is running on all cylinders, they are very hard to beat.
“We truly believe we can beat any team in Nassau County,” he said. “We can hit with anybody, we can field with anybody [and] we’re confident we can beat anybody.”