Written by Brian Coleman, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 01 May 2014 09:59
Following a 2012 campaign that saw the Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy varsity softball team go 12-4 overall and earn a spot in the Class AA-III playoffs, the Lady Hawks struggled in 2013, winning just one time in its 15 games.
“Even though we didn’t get the results we wanted, we saw improvement every day,” said head coach Neil Lasher, who has been coaching in the Plainview system for more than 20 years. “We knew we had a young team so the goal was understanding progress and getting better.”
While the record might not reveal that progression, Lasher has seen the improvement and it has shown early on in 2014. Seven games into the season and the Lady Hawks find themselves at 4-3 overall, and 4-1 in Conference AA-III.
After losing its first two games of the year to Calhoun and Baldwin, respectively, Plainview defeated Farmingdale 14-6 to snap a 14-game losing streak that dated back to last season.
Since then the girls from Plainview have won four of the last five games, including most recently a 13-1 rout of Uniondale.
In that contest, Alex Randisi went 2-for-3 with a home run, three runs batted in and three runs scored to lead the Lady Hawks while pitcher Amanda King picked up the victory.
Randisi and King are two components of the bright, young softball team that Lasher has at Plainview. Even with the team being a year older from last season, there is only one senior on the roster and the rest of the team are underclassmen.
“We know we are building something special here,” said Lasher. “We plan to compete for the top of our conference but now have a solid foundation from which to build on. A bunch of girls play ball all year round now, and you can see that with how much the skill level has increased from last year.”
Early on this season, the pitching has been the reason for early success, most notably freshman Victoria Overbeck who has been virtually unhittable. Overbeck hurled a complete game shutout back on March 27 against Valley Stream Central. In addition to her 10 strikeouts, she went 3-for-4 at the plate and drove in two runs. The standout freshman has tallied three victories, tied for third most in Nassau County, already in the young season.
The lone senior on the team this season is Captain Erica Koplitz, who has been a four-year starter at the varsity level. The first baseman will provide much needed leadership to a team made up of primarily freshman and sophomores.
“Erica is our captain and leader,” said Lasher. “She has been with me for four years now and I am really proud of the way she has improved each year. That type of leadership will be necessary for us this year.”
The combination of talented underclassmen and an experienced senior has the Lady Hawks competing for a chance to return to the playoffs despite the tough season just one year ago. Plainview has made great strides in trying to make some noise in Conference AA-III. The young core is developing nicely, giving reason to believe that the Lady Hawks can become a major factor in the Nassau County softball picture going forward.
“We have such a young team but they are so eager to get better,” said Lasher. “I enjoy seeing the improvement they make on a day-to-day basis as they try to hone all the skills of the game. Our young core has given us a nice foundation for success.”