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Softball

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. 

Newfield’s Riley Firenze tries to score on a wild pitch as Northport pitcher Jamie Gould covers the plate. Photo by Steven Zaitz

By Steven Zaitz

Getting off the bus, deuces were not very wild for the Newfield softball team last Friday.

The Wolverines dropped their first two games by a combined score of 20-6 and were in an early 2-0 hole against Northport on the road. It has been a full trip around the sun of futility for the Lady Wolverines as they had lost 14 games in a row dating back to last season — a streak that started exactly one year prior,  April 5, 2023 with a 12-9 loss to crosstown Centereach.

To make matters worse, the Wolverines ran themselves out of a potential big inning in the first when they had runners on first and third with no outs but failed to score.

But a three-run third, ignited by ninth-place hitter Emily Wall, gave Newfield its first lead of the season. The very long and ugly worm that was this 14-game losing streak was starting to turn. 

Senior starting pitcher Riley Firenze, who wears the number two on her back, shut the Lady Tigers down for the rest of the game, allowing only two hits after the second inning and striking out four. Newfield tacked on four runs late and secured a 7-2 victory – their first since starting the 2023 season 2-0.

“Getting this win was tremendous for our team and for the future of this season,” said Wolverine head coach Amanda Catapano. “Sometimes all it takes is that one win to get back into the groove and back to playing the softball that we know our girls can play.”

In addition to her monumental mound work, Firenze was the hitting star of the game. She had two doubles and a triple against Lady Tiger starting pitcher Jamie Gould. 

“I enjoy watching our team work hard,” said Firenze. “We are growing and improving every day.”

Despite taking the losses against Lindenhurst and Connetquot, Firenze’s stuff was on-point against the Tigers.

“Riley was locked-down on the mound after allowing those two early runs,” said Catapano. “She showed great speed and spin on the mound and she and Teresa Cotty called a wonderful game behind the plate helping to keep Northport batters on their heels using many off-speed pitches at the perfect times.”

Cotty, the cleanup-hitting catcher, had two hits and two RBIs on the day.

For Northport, only two of Gould’s runs allowed were earned, but she dealt with a lot of traffic on the basepaths, giving up 11 hits. 

Left Fielder Lilly McCabe had a two-RBI single that knocked in Jillian Ryan and Gabby Smith-Centero. 

Gabby Weissman had a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning and Kiera Murphy made a sparkling play in right field to end the third inning. 

The Tigers had another setback on Saturday against West Babylon, but they hope to eclipse their three-game skid on Monday against Smithtown East. Newfield plays on Thursday against Sachem North, looking for two wins in a row. 

– Photos by Steven Zaitz

Ava Zicchinelli slides safely home for the Panthers in a road game against Shoreham-Wading River. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Miller Place Panthers opened their 2024 softball season with a victory over Islip, a win against Sayville and then blanked Kings Park, before traveling to Shoreham-Wading River looking to make it four in a row.

Freshman Delaney Schleider’s bat spoke first, driving in two runs for the Panthers in the opening inning to take the early lead in the nonconference matchup April 8.

With one out, Miller Place loaded the bases in the top of the 4th when the Wildcats defense made a statement, turning a double play to strand three runners to end the inning.

It didn’t matter, the Panthers went on a scoring fest in the top of the 5th to break the game wide open by plating 11 runners before it was all over. Shoreham Wading River with their backs against the wall trailing 13-0 in the bottom of the 5th needed to answer back but the Wildcats bats fell silent, triggering the mercy rule — trailing by 10 runs or more — to end the game two innings early.

Miller Place junior Ava Zicchinelli put on an impressive pitching performance for the Panthers striking out eight batters while giving up just two hits, and teammate Brooke Borkowski had three hits, two runs with two RBIs in the win.

Miller Place retook the field the next day, April 9, with a home game against unbeaten Bayport-Blue Point, but lost for the first time, 2-0. Shoreham, on the other hand, cantered to an 18-5 victory at Harborfields. — Photos by Bill Landon 

Saturday morning marked Ward Melville’s softball team’s third annual charity softball game this year, recognizing Hampton Bays high school student Julia Scourakis.

Scourakis suffers from a rare form of Escobar syndrome with Arthrogryposis. There are only 70 cases documented worldwide and none with Julia’s specific genetic sequencing of this disease. Having endured 14 spinal and leg surgeries to date,  Scourakis threw out the first pitch in a fundraising event to benefit the Southampton Fresh Air Home.

The Patriots hosted Deer Park in the non-league event where all the players donned T-shirts that said “Sometimes Real Superheroes live in the hearts of Small Children Fighting Big Battles”

Ward Melville eighth-grader Julianna Russ tossed a shutout performance for the Patriots in the 9-0 victory April 21.

Renee Stocken’s bat set the tone early when the senior ripped a grand slam to put the Panthers out front 4-0 in a road game against Riverhead on Saturday, April 8. 

Miller Place, undefeated in the first four games of the season, continued to tack on the runs, putting the game away 11-2 in this non-league matchup. Sophomore Ava Zicchinelli pitched a complete game, striking out 12 batters to help her team improve to 5-0 in League VII. 

The Panthers retake the field Wednesday with a road game against Sayville. Gametime is slated for 5:00 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon



The Comsewogue bats spoke loudly in the bottom of the second inning when Laurel Chiaino, with bases loaded, drove in three runs with a stand-up double, followed by Emma Shorts driving in two more to put the Warriors out front 9-2. This lead, however, wouldn’t last long.

The visiting Sharks of Eastport-South Manor rallied in the top of the third with seven runs of their own to make it a new game at 9-all. Comsewogue showed discipline at the plate, laying off several pitches and drawing the walks to inch ahead to lead by five runs in the bottom of the third, but ESM wouldn’t go quietly, mustering another surge in the closing innings to retie the game at 16-all.

The youngest player on the Comsewogue roster made the difference when seventh grader Adrianna Napolitano, with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, ripped a single and drove in the winning run, securing the Warriors the 17-16 victory in this League VII contest on April 3.

Comsewogue will hit the road with a pair of away games before returning home Wednesday, April 12, to face the Rocky Point Eagles. The first pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

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The Cougars of Centereach softball took on the Bulls of Smithtown East in their season opener at home on a cold and windy afternoon under brilliant sunshine Thursday, March 30.

Smithtown East took the lead in the top of the second inning, but the Cougars mounted a rally in the bottom of the third, looking to stay within striking distance. It would be the Bulls’ bats that did the talking the rest of the way, putting together a scoring frenzy that Centereach was unable to counter winning the game, 27-8, in the League IV contest. 

Smithtown East senior pitcher Gabby Amicizia was credited with the win.  

Centereach will look for their first win of this early season with a road game against crosstown rival Newfield April 5. Game time is 11 a.m. 

The Bulls are back in action with a non-league road game against William Floyd April 1 at 10 a.m. before resuming league play at home April 3 against Bellport. First pitch is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. 

By Bill Landon

It was the electrifying performance of Miller Place pitcher Amelia DeRosa that gave the Kingsmen of Kings Park trouble in the second round of the postseason.

DeRosa displayed brilliance at the mound, striking out 12 in this contest on May 19. Miller Place freshman Brooke Callaghan crushed one over the centerfield fence for a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth, lifting the Panthers to a 6-1 victory. 

Miller Place, the no. 3 seed overall, will play a road game against second-seeded Islip on Saturday, May 21 at noon.

Photos by Bill Landon