Written by Matt Moro: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 08 June 2012 00:00
The inspiration for this “field of dreams” didn’t exactly come from a dream and most likely won’t be played on by the ghost of famous old time baseball players, but the story of the brand new softball field at Mineola High School, and the season that was played on it, created a stir nonetheless.
As the Mineola School District underwent a reconfiguration that included the loss of the Cross Street Elementary School, the Mineola Varsity Softball team needed a new place to call home, no longer having access to the Cross Street softball field that the team had played at for years.
With all the change from the reconfiguration surrounding the district, this change allowed the Lady Mustangs to feel more at home than ever before.
A brand new softball field was constructed this winter at Mineola High School and according to first-year head coach Anthony Tramonte, it gave the 2012 Mineola Lady Mustangs a “real home field advantage.”
“There’s a definite pride factor,” says Tramonte. “There’s an attitude of ‘this field is ours.’ The kids used to have to go to Cross Street, and it not only took a while to get there, but the students didn’t come out [to support] as much. Now, the field not only belongs to them, but it gives more support from the other teams and staff. They feel more supported.”
“It’s not just easier to get to, it’s an actual home,” says sophomore Katie Priolo. “It completes us.”
Adelphi-bound captain Christina Palmenteri also sees how helpful the new field was to the Lady Mustangs’ season.
“We’re a lot more organized and have a lot more visitors.”
Even something that can be taken for granted, such as practice time, has been something that has been made easier by the new field at the high school. When practicing at the high school in previous years, the lack of a field on the site made it more difficult.
“For practice we don’t have to fight with other teams [for space], we can just go out and practice,” says sophomore captain Valerie Fischer.
The new field was not the only difference between this year’s team and last year’s team, as the play on the field in the 2012 season was a vast improvement. After only winning a handful of games in 2011, this year’s Lady Mustangs started off on a roll, winning their first six matchups, falling to an opponent only when eighth-grade phenom pitcher Emily Skupp had to leave a game with an injury.
“Coming in, I didn’t want to put too much responsibility on Emily, because she is an eighth grader,” Tramonte said. “But she responded very well. She has the ability and works very hard, she is always very prepared.”
Tramonte thinks that not only does she have the ability; she has become a quiet leader with her play.
“Having Emily is a positive because she gives us another pitcher,” Fischer said.
Not only was she another pitcher, she was the team’s most prominent pitcher, appearing in every game for the Lady Mustangs.
“Emily is a key [to our success],” says Palmenteri.
Led by the pitching of Skupp and the offense of the captains Palmenteri and Fischer, the 2012 season for the Mineola Lady Mustangs can certainly be viewed as a step in the right direction. Undefeated and 6-0 until a matchup with Division High School, the Lady Mustangs were able to defeat that same team that handed them their first lost in a rematch during the final game of the season, clinching a playoff berth after a season in 2011 where the team struggled.
Although the team fell to Clarke High School in the first round of playoffs, the young core of the Lady Mustangs made the 2012 season a success, starting with the young captains.
Describing his captains, coach Tramonte said, “They are not only great players, they are the girls others look towards. I can always lean on them to pick the team up.”
“My job is keeping the team motivated and positive,” says Fischer.
Palmenteri describes her job as captain as being “a leader and an outlet for the others,” and on a team lined with young stars, it’s important for the young team to have captains to whom they can voice their concerns to.
“As a captain you have to make sure you know what’s going on, not just for yourself but you have to look out for everybody else as well,” she said.
Coach Tramonte’s bright future rests on the shoulders of a very young team. This year’s battery of eighth-grader Skupp on the mound and freshman Samantha Venus behind the plate, epitomizes the talent and youth of the Lady Mustangs.
“Not many can catch Emily,” Tramonte stated. “She knows her pitches and knows how to communicate with her.”
With the leadership of Palmenteri and Fischer along with other young stars such as Priolo, Skupp and Venus, Tramonte and the Lady Mustangs are on their way to great success in the near future. “Next year we will definitely be in the playoffs,” says Palmenteri.
That might be a very accurate prediction of the Lady Mustangs second season at their very own “field of dreams.”