Written by Andy Newman Friday, 29 March 2013 00:00
You might think that the Great Neck North High girls’ softball team would have very modest expectations coming off last year’s 2-10 record and the fact that only seven players on the roster will have had varsity experience when the Blazers open their season April 2 at home against Lynbrook.
But that’s not just the case according to coach Marisol Mahler, returning for her sixth season. “I have a great feeling about these kids,” said Mahler. “I’m excited. They like the challenge. We’ll start off a little slow with baby steps but we hope to finish strong.” In addition to Lynbrook, North will play home-and-home series against Lawrence, Malverne and Roosevelt.
There are only 20 girls who have come out for the team and Mahler and her junior varsity coach, Kevin Graham, will be using the jayvee players to fill in some empty spots throughout the season. The team has no seniors and some of the girls have no prior experience with the program.
Mahler points out that it’s very difficult to recruit enough players to fill those spots. “It’s a game that requires a high ‘softball I.Q.,’” she explained. “When the ball is hit you’ve got less than three seconds to decide what to do and there are so many possibilities for each situation. It’s also a game that is dominated by good pitching and most of the good players concentrate on playing in outside leagues all year round.
“My girls need so many repetitions, so much practice,” she added. “They need a lot of game experience. We didn’t have a lot of early scrimmages and practices those first two weeks because I didn’t know if we’d have enough girls. The girls need to work on their footwork, getting the ball out of their glove, knowing what to do when they get the ball and so many other skills.”
“They’re so young,” she continued. “I call it ‘slow cook.’ We have to go over strategy all the time, keep them focused and meet them at each of their individual levels.”
Mahler cited the importance of pitching in the game and is confident in the talents of ninth grader Jessica Weiss, a right-hander. “She started with me as a seventh grader,” said the coach. “But she’s come a long way in mastering her fastball. She can play anywhere. Now that we have some pitching we can be more aggressive.” Lauren Pomerantz, a junior right-hander, will also pitch.
Team captain Julia Wolf is also a junior and will catch and play first base. Wolf returns to the team after a year’s absence spent studying overseas. Talia Sharifiazad, a sophomore, will also play first base and catch. Junior Alex Levy will be at second base. Danielle Ran, also a junior, will be at short.
Sage Rosenthal, a sophomore, will anchor the outfield. Rosenthal had an outstanding season last year in centerfield. She was named All-Division (Conference 5) and batted .500 with 16 hits and 15 runs. Leading off she stole 16 bases and was caught just once.
Third base and left field are still open and Mahler feels that freshman Alex Yudkovich and sophomore Rita Ramirez will fit somewhere in the lineup. Rosenthal could be at third but Mahler would have to replace her in center.