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Wolverines

The Ward Melville field hockey team celebrates it's 2-1 victory over Newfield that earned the Patriots the Suffolk County Class A championship title at Dowling College on Nov. 2. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Despite a scoreless battle after 30 minutes of field hockey action, it was Ward Melville sophomore midfielder Kate Mulham’s goal scored with 8:31 left in regulation that was the game-winner for the No. 1-seeded Patriots over No. 2 Newfield, for the Suffolk County Class A title Monday evening at Dowling College’s Athletic Complex.

Ward Melville's Kate Mulham moves the ball in the Patriots' 2-1 win over Newfield for the Suffolk County Class A championship title on Nov. 2 at Dowling College. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville’s Kate Mulham moves the ball in the Patriots’ 2-1 win over Newfield for the Suffolk County Class A championship title on Nov. 2 at Dowling College. Photo by Bill Landon

The first goal of the game came nine minutes into the second half, when Ward Melville sophomore Kerri Thornton crossed the ball to freshman Lexi Reinhardt, who smacked it in for the 1-0 lead.

“Kerri [Thornton] brought it up field” Reinhardt said. “I was just there to hit it in.”

Neither team faced each other during the regular season, so Patriots (13-1) were seeing the Wolverines (12-2) for the first time.

Although the time of possession favored Ward Melville, Newfield pressed for all 60 minutes, forcing the Patriots to earn every move.

Ward Melville junior Kiera Alventosa said she knew her team would have their hands full with their opponent.

“We couldn’t let up at all against them — they came at us hard,” she said. “On offense, we passed well, we were looking at our lanes. We were strong defensively; they weren’t getting through us.”

With 17:40 left to play, Newfield made it a new game when senior forward Maggie Finley rocked the box with an assist from her younger sister, Abby, a freshman midfielder.

Ward Melville's Kiera Alventosa drives past Newfield's Michelle Loken in the Patriots' 2-1 win over the Wolverines for the Suffolk County Class A title on Nov. 2 at Dowling College. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville’s Kiera Alventosa drives past Newfield’s Michelle Loken in the Patriots’ 2-1 win over the Wolverines for the Suffolk County Class A title on Nov. 2 at Dowling College. Photo by Bill Landon

Ward Melville head coach Shannon Watson said the journey to the championship round wasn’t easy.

“It’s been quite an emotional road — we were down 4-1 in our last game but our kids battled back and it shows how determined they are,” Watson said. “To be here is wonderful, but it just wasn’t enough for them. They wanted to make sure that they had a solid win tonight.”

That solid win came when Mulham received the ball from Thornton, and drove her shot to the back of the cage for the 2-1 lead.

“I expected them to be good — they’re the No. 2 seed,” Thornton said. “So we had to come out with great intensity to keep our momentum.”

Ward Melville will face Massapequa for the Long Island Class A title on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Dowling College.

“I’ll let them take a day to let it soak in and enjoy the win,” said the coach. “Then it’s back to practice and we’ll continue to do what we’ve done all season, working on our spacing and our ball control and sharpening our defense.”

The Ward Melville field hockey team poses for a group photo after edging out Newfield, 2-1, to earn the Suffolk County Class A title at Dowling College on Nov. 2. Photo by Bill Landon
The Ward Melville field hockey team poses for a group photo after edging out Newfield, 2-1, to earn the Suffolk County Class A title at Dowling College on Nov. 2. Photo by Bill Landon

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Newfield junior Dalia Perez digs one out during the Wolverines' 3-1 victory over Centereach on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield junior Dalia Perez digs one out during the Wolverines' 3-1 victory over Centereach on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield junior Dalia Perez digs one out during the Wolverines’ 3-1 victory over Centereach on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

After dropping the first set to the Centereach, Newfield won the next three on the road, defeating their crosstown rival 3-1 in League III volleyball action Friday afternoon.

The Wolverines looked to put the first set away, leading 20-15 at the first time out, but the Cougars battled back to tie it at 24-24, ultimately winning 26-24.

Newfield head coach Christy Innes said her team came out flat.

“The girls did not come out with a lot of energy, but they turned it around in game two,” she coach.

The second set was very different from the first.

The Wolverines turned up the intensity, and in convincing fashion, claimed the second set 25-16, to tie the match.

Centereach senior Lauren Meigel makes contact with the ball during the Cougars' 3-1 loss to Newfield on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach senior Lauren Meigel makes contact with the ball during the Cougars’ 3-1 loss to Newfield on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon

Centereach senior co-captain Lauren Meigel said she wasn’t surprised at the margin of victory in set two.

“That was to be expected as they were angry and wanted to get back [at us],” Centereach senior co-captain Nicole Fellone said. “Today we had great communication, where we had problems [with that] before.”

Trailing by six, Centereach battled back in the third set to tie the game at 21-21, and took a 24-22 advantage, but Newfield refused to lose, rallied back to tie it at 25-25, and neither team would give way, as the rivals retied the game at 26-26.

“Our attacking was a lot better in the later matches,” Newfield junior Rachel Mennonna said. “We talked a lot more and we moved our feet better.”

Newfield senior Gabby Darnaby sets up the ball during the Wolverines' 3-1 win over crosstown rival Centereach on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield senior Gabby Darnaby sets up the ball during the Wolverines’ 3-1 win over crosstown rival Centereach on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon

With a 27-26 lead, Newfield finished the third set, to go up 2-1 in the match.

“We played a team that was better than us,” Centereach head coach Mike Weaver said. “We’ve had a number of injuries over the season. We’re down three starters.”

Newfield showed why they took third place in league play this season, by stretching their legs in the fourth set to break out to a 19-11 lead, thanks to the senior captain Gabby Darnaby. On a service tear, rattling off eight consecutive points, Darnaby propelled her team to a 22-11 lead with a pair of service aces along the way.

“We had better energy after that first set — we had better communication and we played better defense,” Darnaby said. “We set up the blocks where they were supposed to be, and that helped a lot.”

Centereach junior Rachel Masullo leaps up to spike the ball in the Cougars' 3-1 loss to Newfield on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach junior Rachel Masullo leaps up to spike the ball in the Cougars’ 3-1 loss to Newfield on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon

Newfield junior Dayna Hunter brought her team to the brink with her kill shot for a 24-11 advantage. Coping with an injury-riddled lineup, Weaver had to make adjustments — rotating players to fill the holes.

“Emily Timarky, who is a freshman who was thrown into a spot she’s never played, she stepped up and had nine kills, so I was very happy,” Weaver said.

But it was too much for Centereach, as Newfield put the fourth set away, 25-11, to win the match.

“I think we worked as hard as we possibly could everyone gave 100 percent,” Meigel said. “We hustled the whole way, and on offense, we just kept swinging away; we swung hard and we were not going down without a fight.”

With the loss, Centereach fell to 5-8, and with a win to finish off the regular season, Newfield improved to 10-4, which places them solidly in the playoff picture, which gets underway Monday Nov. 2.

Newfield's Michelle Loken clears the ball at midfield at Huntington's Grace Curran races alongside her in the Wolverines' 4-2 win over the Blue Devils on Oct. 16. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Newfield field hockey team maintained its high postseason position Friday with a 4-2 win over Huntington, despite a 2-1 deficit heading into halftime.

According to Newfield head coach Martin Laverty, it took everything the Wolverines had in the second half to score three unanswered goals to pull out the 4-2 victory over their visiting opponents.

Huntington hit the scoreboard first at the eight-minute mark when junior midfielder Elizabeth Berejka crossed a pass to senior forward Meghan Plant, who rocked the box for the early lead.

Huntington's Elizabeth Berejka scores on Newfield's Maria Daume in the Blue Devils' 4-2 loss to Newfield on Oct. 16 Photo by Bill Landon
Huntington’s Elizabeth Berejka scores on Newfield’s Maria Daume in the Blue Devils’ 4-2 loss to Newfield on Oct. 16 Photo by Bill Landon

“The last time we faced this team they beat us by a lot,” Plant said of the team’s previous 6-1 loss to Newfield. “But with each game we get bigger and better — staying close playing a team like this, it helps us to get into the playoffs.”

Laverty said his team was sluggish through the first 30 minutes of play.

“We came out slow in the first half, and our opponent came out really strong against us,” Laverty said. “They showed us that they really wanted this one.”

Newfield senior midfielder Jordynn Aiello evened the score when her solo shot found the cage with 17:11 left in the half to even the score.

The Wolverines looked to take the first lead of the game, but Huntington had other ideas, and Berejka drove an unassisted shot past the goalie with 21 seconds left to take a 2-1 advantage into the break.

Huntington head coach Kathy Wright said Berejka had an exceptional game.

“She had breakaways and with her speed, she can bring it up the field,” Wright said. “She had a great game and she can bring it right to the cage.”

Like her sister did in the first half, sophomore defender Camrynn Aiello evened the score in the second off a feed from freshman Abby Finley, to even the score, 2-2.

“We underestimated them a little bit — not realizing that every game is a new game, and at half time, we realized this is not the same team we versed the first time,” Camrynn Aiello said. “The coach told us a halftime that we would have to step it up and play Newfield hockey.”

Newfield's Leah Johnson tried to redirect the ball for a shot as Huntington's Cara Sorrentino guards the box in the Wolverines' 4-2 win over the Blue Devils on Oct. 16. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield’s Leah Johnson tried to redirect the ball for a shot as Huntington’s Cara Sorrentino guards the box in the Wolverines’ 4-2 win over the Blue Devils on Oct. 16. Photo by Bill Landon

After making some adjustments, Laverty said his team came out playing the way they’re supposed to play.

Newfield senior forward Brianna Reyes put the Wolverines out in front for good when she buried an unassisted shot with 14 minutes left for the 3-1 advantage.

Newfield senior midfielder Shannon Doherty orchestrated the insurance goal with four minutes left to play, when she fed Jordynn Aiello on a crossing pass for her second goal of the day, and the 4-2 win.

“They’re a really great team, but we played well,” Berejka said. “We gave it our all. Unfortunately we didn’t get the win, but we played our hardest.”

Jordynn Aiello said the game was definitely a wakeup call for her teammates.

“We realized in the second half that this was not the same team we played [two and a half weeks ago],” she said. “Now it’s the second half of the season and this is a new team we’re seeing on the field today.”

Huntington fell to 6-6 in Division II with the loss, and will host West Babylon on Tuesday at 4 p.m. for the last regular-season game of the year.

With the win, Newfield improved to 10-2, and with one game remaining in the regular season, will face West Islip on Wednesday at home at 6 p.m., before traveling to Miller Place for a scrimmage on Friday.

Newfield's Kristen Prevosto challenges Half Hollow Hills West's Grace Walker as she reaches for the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Many coaches say that the purpose of nonleague games is for one team to play a better team, or to “play up,” in an effort to raise their game and improve their play by facing a faster team with greater skillsets. Newfield girls’ soccer head coach Ann Marie Hassett agreed in the offseason to a nonleague matchup against Half Hollow Hills West, but this year she sensed something was different.

Newfield's Sierra Rosario battles a Half Hollow Hills West opponent for possession. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield’s Sierra Rosario battles Half Hollow Hills West’s Nicole Gluckman for possession. Photo by Bill Landon

“This is the first year they’re not in our league, so when the coach called and asked if I wanted to play a nonleague game, I paused, because we’ve never beaten them in the eight years I’ve been here,” Hassett said. “But our team has come a long way. We’ve grown; we’ve played well together, so I thought that this time we could beat them.”

Her inclination was right, as on Saturday, for the first time in eight years, the Wolverines outlasted Hills West to claim a shutout victory, scoring three unanswered goals and using defensive play to keep their opponent on their heels.

Ten minutes in, Newfield sophomore midfielder Taylor Regensburger started the scoring when she drove her shot to the back of the net off a feed from eighth-grade midfielder Sierra Rosario, to take the lead 1-0.

Under a hot sun in a game riddled with injuries, Hills West struggled to get the ball to its forwards, as the Newfield defensive pressure was more than the team could handle.

With 11 minutes left in the first, senior forward Michelle Bartolo, a co-captain, set up the next score with a cross pass to Rosario, who chipped it in for the 2-0 advantage.

“It was a really good cross — a really good cross from Michelle,” Rosario said. “I just redirected it and it went in.”

Hassett said Bartolo was playing defense for the first time, and her senior captain did an amazing job in her defensive role.

Michelle Bartolo heads the ball for Newfield. Photo by Bill Landon
Michelle Bartolo heads the ball for Newfield. Photo by Bill Landon

“I was playing defense and there was a free ball so I crossed it in and [Rosario] kicked it in,” Bartolo said.

As time wound down in the final half, Newfield junior midfielder Kristen Prevosto, on a crossing pass, fed senior forward Cori Myers, who shot the ball into the corner of the net.

With their league opening loss to North Babylon in overtime, along with their blowout victory over Riverhead on Friday, the Wolverines improve to 2-1 overall. Newfield will take on Smithtown East next, in League III action at home on Thursday at 4 p.m.

Hassett said that the heavily favored North Babylon team was expected to easily outscore Newfield, but said her team held its own and took the game into overtime. The coach added that the win over Half Hollow Hills West was huge for her team, and said that other teams have taken notice.

“In years past other teams regarded Newfield as an easy win,” Hassett said. “And now, for the first time, other teams are talking about Newfield soccer.”

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More than 400 Newfield High School students received their diplomas on Saturday, June 27, at the school’s annual commencement ceremony.

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Middle Country's Denzel Williams sprints to the finish line during a meet earlier this season. File photo by Bill Landon

By Clayton Collier

Middle Country track standout Denzel Williams had an admirable performance at the divisional meets at Comsewogue this past weekend, taking second and third in the 200- and 100-meter events, respectively.
Most students would be thrilled to have finished with such marks, but Williams considered it a bad day at the office.

“I’m not really satisfied,” he said. “I definitely think I could have gotten first. It was just an off day and hopefully, come state qualifiers, I think I can and I should place first in my events. Definitely in the 200.”

The All-League junior will head to state qualifiers at Port Jefferson High School this upcoming weekend, looking to make a comeback from his divisional results. Williams finished the 100 in 10.9 seconds, and the 200 in 22.2.

Joining him at the qualifiers will be fellow junior Middle Country track and field athlete Chris Weiner, who will compete in the pole vault.

Middle Country track coach George Royce said he believes that Weiner, who did not place at the divisional meet, will bounce back at state qualifiers, as he said the wind gave him a little trouble. As for Williams, Royce says he hopes to see his star athlete build on his divisional times.

“I think he’s going to do even better this weekend, once we fine tune a couple things,” Royce said. “The sprint races all depend on how they feel that day.”

Denzel Williams competes in the long jump for Middle Country. File photo by Bill Landon
Denzel Williams competes in the long jump for Middle Country. File photo by Bill Landon

For Williams, a key to success is having a short memory, something that, as a three-sport athlete, he has had ample opportunity to develop.

In the fall Williams is a running back and safety on the football team, in the winter he’s a combo guard for basketball, and in the spring he sprints.

Williams said track is particularly beneficial, as it helps him stay fit year-round.

“It keeps me in shape for all my sports,” he said. “It only helps you get better. It won’t hurt you. You get faster; stronger.”

Among all three of his coaches — Royce, head football coach Joseph Piccinnini and head basketball coach Anthony Agostino — one theme was consistent in describing Williams: a hard worker.

“He’s probably the best all-around athlete I’ve ever coached in terms of speed and jumping ability,” Agostino said. “He’s a tremendous leader. He works hard and he’s admired by his peers and faculty. He’s the real deal.”

Williams said the most difficult part about being a three-sport athlete is balancing school work.

“It’s difficult, but you’ve got to maintain,” he said. “It’s a lot of late-night studying, but that’s the price you pay. It’s worth it in the end.”

Though Royce said there have been some occasional scheduling conflicts, he feels it is important for young athletes to play multiple sports.

“Nowadays a lot of coaches think that kids should be playing their sport all year round, but I disagree,” he said. “I think most good athletes can do three sports. It’s beneficial for them, too.”

Although early, Williams said he is leaning toward football in college, but said track is a possibility as well. He has been looked at by a number of local programs, including the University of Massachusetts, Lowell; Stony Brook University and Fordham University.

Piccinnini said one of Williams’ most valuable tools is his speed, and it doesn’t just help him in track, but also on the gridiron.

“He’s got that closing speed and that breakaway speed needed,” he said. “That’s a great thing to have, and he has it.”

Williams will see what happens in the remaining year. In the meantime, he has his hands full finishing up track season before getting ready for football. Royce is confident that Williams will be successful in whatever he chooses.

“He’s determined,” Royce said. “He’s gifted with tremendous speed and jumping abilities. The sky’s the limit with how far he’s going to go.”

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Centereach’s Nick Kostulas makes contact with the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Newfield’s Brandon Alberto hurls a pitch from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield’s Brandon Alberto hurls a pitch from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon

The Newfield Wolverines hosted their crosstown rivals Centereach for district bragging rights Tuesday afternoon. The Cougars jumped out to a three-run lead, but the Wolverines battled back in a game that was decided on the final pitch of the seventh inning, where Newfield found its way out of a bases loaded scare, to hold on to a 10-7 win.

Centereach struck first when junior Victor Corsaro hit a solo home run over the left center fence. With runners on first and second, senior Joe Calabrese hit a line drive to left field to load the bases. Senior Nick Kostulas scored from third on a passed ball at the plate to help his team go up, 2-0. Centereach squandered a scoring opportunity with bases loaded when Newfield senior pitching ace Brandon Alberto worked his way out of the jam — fanning the batter at the plate to retire the side.

Newfield’s bats did the talking in the bottom of the second, when senior Joe North ripped a two-run homer to center field to close the gap, 3-2.

Newfield senior Joe Pepe followed with a base-clearing rip to deep right to break out to a 4-3 lead, and senior J.J. Lindgren smacked a deep shot to the fence for a two-RBI double and the 6-3 advantage.

“We played defense, we hit the ball well and that’s what you’re supposed to do,” North said. “But J.J.’s home run was the difference. It cleared our minds, and they got down over it.”

Centereach’s Austin Turner fires from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach’s Austin Turner fires from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon

Centereach senior Austin Turner took over on the mound in an attempt to quell the scoring fest and closed out the inning.

Centereach pulled within one run in the top of the fourth when Corsaro blasted one through the infield gap to drive in senior John Boss. Kostulas struck again with a line drive down the right side to bring Corsaro home and make it a one-run game, 6-5.

“We tried to get back in it there late,” Boss said. “We never give up. We’re resilient. We never get down on ourselves, but we came up short today.”

With runners at the corners, Centereach tried a suicide squeeze as the runner on first took off to draw a throw so the runner on third could head home. Newfield didn’t fall for it though, and ran down the third base runner for the out.

Lindgren’s bat was the difference-maker again, when he smacked a deep shot over the left field fence to tally two more RBIs and a run, for a commanding 9-5 lead.

“It was our defense today that won it for us — we didn’t make many errors; we played the cleanest baseball that we’ve played all year,” Lindgren said. “And the key is we followed that with hitting.”

Again Centereach would make a pitching change when A.J. Glass took to the mound to go the rest of the way.

Newfield’s Joe Pepe makes a throw from third to get the runner at first. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield’s Joe Pepe makes a throw from third to get the runner at first. Photo by Bill Landon

“We struggled with command with our starting pitcher and that was an issue,” Centereach coach Mike Herrschaft said. “So you come in with three other relievers and you’re hoping that they can hold the fort down, but it just didn’t happen.”

With a runner on base, the Wolverines proved they weren’t done when senior Jared Prevete drove one deep into the gap, to score sophomore Jacob Vanessendelft, to edge ahead 10-5.

Centereach threatened in the top of the sixth inning when Corsaro’s shot to left center loaded the bases, and again it was Kostulas’ bat that answered the call as he drove one deep into no man’s land for two RBIs that trimmed the deficit, 10-7.

“We played a great game,” Corsaro said. “We made a few mistakes in the field, but other than that it was solid all around. We did hit the ball, and we pitched pretty well today.”

With a base runner on first, the Cougars defense turned a double play to end the inning.

“We definitely hit the ball better,” Newfield coach Paul Pedersen said. “We played defense, but any time you get into a blue-red matchup in a district game, it’s scary. These kids know each other. They’ve played together their whole lives and it’s a rival. It doesn’t matter what the records are, it’s a game that nobody wants to lose.”

Newfield’s Bobby Vath throws relief. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield’s Bobby Vath throws relief. Photo by Bill Landon

Newfield freshman Bobby Vath took over for Alberto on the mound the rest of the way, and with the Cougars’ last at- bat, Kostulas took to the batter’s box with the bases loaded and his team trailing by three.

With two outs, Vath battled the hitter, who protected the plate as the count grew full. Kostulas smacked a deep fly ball to center field, but Newfield tracked it down for the final out.

“We hit the ball hard, and we play them again tomorrow, Pedersen said. “We’ll try to minimize the strikeouts, put the ball in play and stay mistake-free on defense.”

Results of Wednesday’s matchup were not available by press time, but with Tuesday’s result, Newfield improves to 4-9 in League IV, while Centereach dropped to 3-10.

The Cougars begins a new series with Half Hollow Hills West at home on Monday, May 11, with the first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m. Newfield will travel to West Islip on Monday at 4 p.m. for the first game of the Wolverines’ final series of the regular season.

Above, Kim Plaspohl fires a pitch from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Both teams stranded runners on base after several innings, but the Smithtown West softball team left fewer players stranded, to pull out a 4-0 victory over visiting Newfield on a cold, dreary Tuesday afternoon in a League II matchup.

Newfield senior Jennifer Sarcone struck first with a deep shot to left center for a standup double but was stranded at the bottom of the first.

Danielle Balsamo reached for the ball but not in time to make the out. Photo by Bill Landon
Danielle Balsamo reached for the ball but not in time to make the out. Photo by Bill Landon

Smithtown West sophomore Tara Killeen drove in senior Kassie Furr on a sacrifice fly to give her team a 1-0 lead to start the second inning, and the duo did it again in the top of the third when Killeen smacked a fly ball to right field to drive in Furr to take a two-run advantage.

“I didn’t think we came out with as much energy as we normally do,” Newfield pitcher Tabitha Butler said. “We should’ve got more lift on the ball. All we were doing is driving balls into the ground right at them so we weren’t’ finding the gaps.”

Smithtown West head coach Dave Miller sent in freshman right fielder Madison Mulder to pinch run at first, who stole second base on the very next pitch, but again, the Bulls stranded a runner on base.

Newfield head coach Jessica Palmaccio said her team didn’t execute when the opportunity presented itself.

“They were exactly what we thought they would be,” Palmaccio said. “They’re a good team. We’re a good team, but we didn’t do what we needed to do today. That’s all.”

Smithtown West lit up the scoreboard once more when Furr drilled a hit to rightfield to drive in sophomore Kaitlyn Loffman to edge ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth.

“We came out knowing what to expect and we came out ready to play with good communication,” Smithtown West senior pitcher Kim Plaspohl said. “I felt confident because I knew my team would back me up.”

Furr, who defensively collected two line drives in the dirt to stop both, was there for her pitcher.
“I just knew I needed to support my pitcher and a play like that could mean the game,” she said. “So I knew when it was hit I needed to do whatever I had to do to get to it.”

Kiley Magee makes a catch. Photo by Bill Landon
Kiley Magee makes a catch. Photo by Bill Landon

Newfield’s Butler thought that her movement could’ve been better to help her team not just from the plate but from the mound.

“I didn’t hit all of my spots and that’s where they took advantage of it,” she said. “That’s where they got their hits.”

Killeen, in scoring position, was driven home by Smithtown West sophomore Amber Meystrik’s bat to take a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth.

“Their energy was more than ours was today,” Sarcone said. “We had opportunities today that we didn’t take advantage of.”

Newfield threatened late, but couldn’t capitalize and fell to Smithtown West to drop to 2-3, while the Bulls improve to 2-1.

“I thought the girls played very, very well,” Miller said. “My pitcher was great. She didn’t walk anybody and our short stop [Furr] played better than I’ve ever seen her play. She’s a four-year varsity player.”

Smithtown West was scheduled to travel to Riverhead on Wednesday while Newfield was slated to host Copiague.

Kyle Johnson takes a cut during batting practice. Photo by Bill Landon

The Newfield baseball team is on the hunt for a postseason spot this year, and with several returning players from last years’ varsity squad, key seniors among them are shortstop Joseph Pepe and pitching ace Brandon Alberto, they may be able to do it.

Pepe, a returning All-League player, will likely fill the role of lead-off hitter as he did last season, and Newfield head coach Paul Pedersen expects him to be in the conversation of top player in League IV.

“This year we have better leadership; people are stepping up — we’re a stronger team,” Pepe said. “We open up against Half Hollow Hills West with three in a row, so that’ll set the tone of the season.”

Bobby Vath tosses the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Bobby Vath tosses the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Alberto, a four-year varsity player earning academic All-League honors last season, is one of the dominating pitchers in the league.

“He is a strike machine who can throw middle 80’s with multiple pitches for strikes, and is one of the most competitive personalities I have ever coached,” Pedersen said. Alberto will be attending the New York Institute of Technology on a baseball scholarship next year.

Alberto said that he was pleased with the dedication of the players; how hard they’re all working this early in the season. Alberto said Half Hollow Hills West is the team to beat in the league.

“They have a good pitching staff, good defense, good hitting,” he said. “So they’re the top dog.”

J.J. Lindgren, a senior outfielder and pitcher and returning All-League player, has a nice combination of power and speed, and according to Pedersen, will be one of the best players in a league that is stacked with talent. He will be playing at SUNY Old Westbury next year.

Pedersen also sees this years’ Wolverines team as being a tighter group of kids who have been working hard from the first day of practice, with two freshmen, Bobby Vath and Kyle Johnson, earning a spot on the varsity roster. Vath shows confidence on the mound with command of his pitching.

“He throws multiple pitches for strikes and understands the importance of hitting spots, changing speeds and getting ahead of batters,” the head coach said. “I think he is going to prove to be an asset to the program as he clearly shows that he knows what he’s doing on the mound.”

Brandon Alberto hurls a pitch during practice. Photo by Bill Landon
Brandon Alberto hurls a pitch during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

Pedersen expects sophomore third baseman and pitcher Tom Desena to serve as a power bat in the lineup and added that juniors Kyle Wappaus and Frank Diantonio both show a solid skill set behind the plate with the ability to hit the ball in big spots.

With a roster 18 players strong, including nine seniors, six juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen, the team has the senior leadership and veteran potential to improve on last season’s 7-13 overall record.

Pedersen said he has several notable returning players, including senior pitcher and infielder Justin Barnhill; senior outfielder and catcher Danny Towne; senior catcher and pitcher Jared Prevete; senior pitcher, first baseman and outfielder Jared Consiglio; senior infielder and pitcher Joe North; and senior outfielder Michael Ruggiero; all will be looking to contribute both offensively and defensively to the program.

“I think the biggest difference this year is the kids seem to be doing all the right things in the gym and there really doesn’t seem to be the ‘me first’ attitude,” Pedersen said. “There are definitely players that are more talented than others on the team, but every player will compete for a spot and earn their playing time.”

Newfield opens the season with two nonleague games against Miller Place, before beginning league play against Half Hollow Hills West on Tuesday, April 7.

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