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Emily Lopez

By Bill Landon

For the Miller Place softball team, the road to the NYS Class A championship title game involved consistent winning play that led them to their second-ever Suffolk County title with a 4-1 victory over Islip, May 25. Facing Seaford a week later in the Long Island championship round, Miller Place defeated the Nassau County title holder 7-4 to capture their first LIC title in program history. 

Pitching ace Ava Zicchinelli, who was an eighth grader when the Panthers won their last county title back in 2021, was lights out from the circle. With the bat of Emily Lopez, they made for a potent combination. Both are juniors.

The NYS softball championship finals were held June 7-8 in North Bellport at the Martha Avenue Recreation Park sports complex. On the Friday, the Panthers defeated Section V finalist Pittsford Sutherland 4-1 to punch their ticket to the final round the following day.

On the Saturday, Section IX finalist Marlboro jumped out to an early 2-0 lead before Miller Place freshman Delaney Schleider drove in sophomore Laney Vomero on a standup double to trail 2-1 bottom of the third.

The Marlboro team stretched their legs in scoring two more runs in the fourth inning to which the Panthers had no answer. 

Miller Place without a single senior on its roster finished their 2024 campaign with an impressive 21-5 record and will likely return with its starting lineup intact for next season.

By Bill Landon

Without a single senior listed on their roster Miller Place softball team, fresh off their Suffolk County championship victory, demonstrated that this Panther squad will be a powerhouse to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.

After three-and-a-half scoreless innings against Nassau champions, Seaford, Ava Zicchinelli’s bat spoke first with an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth. Laney Vomero stepped into the batter’s box with the bases loaded, and drove in two more runs to put the Panthers ahead 3-0 at the end of four. 

Seaford capitalized in the top of the sixth inning on a Miller Place throwing error, plating two runners then drove in two more to take the lead 4-3.

After going 0-3 at bat, Miller Place junior Emily Lopez drove in a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to retake the lead at 5-4. With two outs, the Panthers plated two more runs on a Seaford error to surge ahead 7-4. Leading by three, Zicchinelli did what she’s done all season and kept Seaford on its heels for the final three outs to claim the first Long Island Class A championship title in Miller Place history.

The Panthers will now enter uncharted territory when they return to the Martha Avenue Recreation Park sports complex in North Bellport Friday, June 7, for the NYS semifinal round where they will face Pittsford Sutherland. First pitch is slated for 9 a.m.Tickets can be purchased at: nysphsaa.org/sports/softballtickets.

2024 Suffolk County Class A Champions. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

It was the bat of Emily Lopez bat that sparked the Miller Place (No. 3) offense with a two-run homer in the opening inning coupled with some lights-out pitching from Ava Zicchinelli that kept Islip (No. 2) at bay in the Suffolk County Class A championship final Saturday, May 25. Islip answered in the top of the third, but the Panthers plated two more insurance runs to protect a 4-1 lead after six innings of play. 

With Islip’s backs against the wall and down to the last three outs, Zicchinelli kept the Buccaneers on their heels and fanned the final batter for the win at the Martha Avenue sports complex in North Bellport. 

The Panthers will return to Martha Avenue Thursday, May 30, to contest the Long Island championship round where they’ll face the winner of the Wantagh/Seaford game. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at: gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXI.