VSS captures conference crown


It took two weeks, but it was well worth the wait.

Valley Stream South sophomore pitcher Isabella Secaira-Cotto struck out a school-record 24 and had a pair of game-tying hits in its playoff-clinching 3-2 softball victory over Sewanhaka in what turned out to be the regular-season finale on May 7.

The Conference V/VI crossover game originated on April 24 and was suspended after 10 innings with the score tied at 1. Secaira-Cotto, who earned a second straight All-County award, homered in the bottom of the sixth and then had a run-scoring single with two outs in the bottom of the 11th to keep the Lady Falcons (12-2 in conference play) alive after Sewanhaka took the lead in the top of the inning. Sophomore Arianna Greif scored the winning run on an error.

“In our conference, you need to win 85 percent of games to qualify for the playoffs,” VSS coach Demetri Adrahtas said. “So at 9-2 after we lost one-run games to Cold Spring Harbor and Floral Park, we not only were fighting to win the conference but also to get a playoff spot.”

South broke the two-game slide with a 5-2 victory over red-hot West Hempstead on May 4 to clinch the conference top spot, then rolled past Great Neck South, 14-1, less than 24 hours later to maintain its playoff hopes. The Lady Falcons’ season ended with a 3-1 defeat at Hewlett in a Nassau Class A play-in game on May 8.

“We were a little out of steam emotionally, but it was a good game,” Adrahtas said. “Isabella pitched good enough for us to win. Hewlett had some nice hits that found gaps and we weren’t able to get any clutch hits. We had traffic on the bases all day.”

Emma Blumenstein and Izzy Martino homered for Hewlett, which scored single runs in the bottom of the first, fourth and fifth. Pitcher Valarie Liao-Greene worked out of serious trouble in the first thanks to an inning-ending double play after South took a 1-0 lead with one out and had the bases loaded. Sophomore catcher Isabella Grasso (.500 batting average; 23-for-46) scored its lone run. “We missed an opportunity in the first and had plenty of other chances with runners in scoring position,” Adrahtas said.

There’s a good chance, Adrahtas said, the Lady Falcons will rise up the conference ladder next spring. The majority of the roster will return, led by Secaira-Cotto who had 270 strikeouts, compiled a stingy 1.15 ERA and helped her own cause with a stunning .700 average, eight home runs and 41 RBIs. 

Among the senior departures will be Alexis Olson, who earned All-Conference honors after hitting .355 and “playing at a high level at third base,” Adrahtas said. Andrea Singh provided solid defense in right, the busiest outfield spot since not many opponents were able to pull Secaira-Cotto’s deliveries, and Jhanel Venturina (.300 average) brought depth to the lineup and cotributed at shortstop and first base.