It’s easy to understand why Seaford softball coach Thomas Fioriglio speaks with an air of great confidence when discussing the Lady Vikings’ future prospects. One year removed from a playoff appearance and with a core of mostly freshmen and sophomores, the second-year coach truly believes the sky is the limit.
While the goal this season is to keep improving and build upon their success a season ago, the coach has his sights set even higher in the long term.
“Ultimately the goal is a Long Island championship. And it’s in our future.” said Fioriglio, who has previously coached the school’s JV squad for 15 years.
Success this year won’t be without a challenge. Facing some of the county’s toughest competition in Conference ABC-II, the team has begun the season 2-4 in conference play. Fioriglio said he’s glad his team has been in every game so far – two of their four losses were decided in the final inning – though he’s hoping for a bit more consistent play as the season continues along.
Seaford’s development this season will hinge in large part on the play of the team’s senior captains, two of them being the only seniors in the starting lineup. Jackie Nieman at catcher has stepped into a leadership role, her coach said, taking many of the younger players under her wing. She’s a reliable presence behind the plate, calling a solid game while keeping the pitchers focused.
Samantha Yannetti, the other senior captain, is entering her first season as a full-time pitcher, and Fioriglio said she’s prepared to establish herself in that role.
Another captain, All-County junior shortstop Julianna Hilcken, is one of the team’s top table setters and clutch hitters. “She’s one of the hardest working players I’ve ever coached,” Fioriglio said. “She leads by example.”
When Fioriglio envisions his young players one day leading the team to a Long Island championship, one of the first players that comes to his mind is freshman Anna Butler, who played varsity last year as an eighth grader and was rewarded with an All-County honorable mention. In the team’s first five games, she slugged three home runs with a batting average north of .600.
Budding sophomore stars that also have Fioriglio excited for the future include Karen Schaller, the team’s speedy leadoff hitter, outfielder Victoria DelPrete, and power-hitter Jordan Ragona.
After beating Division and Plainedge on consecutive days earlier this month to begin the conference schedule 2-1, the team followed with three straight defeats. But Fioriglio said he’s seen positive signs so far in the young season, and expects his team to hit their stride and continue their rise in short order.
“We’re trying to instill in the girls a culture of being proud to be a part of Seaford softball,” he said. “We’ve got a history and our goal is to take this team and be up there as well.”