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Softball: The new-look Chiefs

Call it “Extreme Makeover: Massapequa Softball Edition.”

Yes, things they are a changin’ in Massapequa. The batting order has been shuffled and the fielders have been shifted.

“Everyone seems to be focused on playing their part and doing the best they can in their role,” said Massapequa coach Steve Donovan.  “You really need the whole team to buy into what your trying to do and we preach every role is important. Our girls understand that pretty well and continue to work hard each and every day.”

Shortly after going 2-0 in Maryland – a road trip that was set up by assistant coach Bret Malone - the Chiefs dropped three of four league games. That led to a recent makeover that has resulted in two straight wins over quality opponents.

Only two players remain in the same position in which they began the season: pitcher Renee Vaiano, who in her first season as ace has started 7-4 in arguably Long Island’s toughest conference, and freshman second baseman Kelle Lalier, who has a team-best three home runs and a smooth glove in the field.

So that Massapequa lineup card you have from a few weeks ago, you can go ahead and throw that out.

Amanda Considine went from the bench to catcher.  

Natasha Macri shifted from catcher to left field.

Darby Pandolfo moved from left field to third base.

Rachel Sieber went from third base to short stop.

Danielle Gariglio shifted from shortstop to center field.

Allie Dananberg moved from center field to right field. 

Krista Carcaterra went from pinch hitting to the designated player slot.

Emily Gaeta shifted from the designated player slot to full time at first base.

In a period of such drastic change, having a constant in the circle helps make for a smooth transition.  Since the lineup adjustments, Vaiano struck out 14 in an 8-3 win over Long Beach and tossed a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts in a 9-2 win over defending county champion MacArthur.   

“She’s pitching with a lot of confidence,” Donovan said.  “She’s really locating her pitches very well, moving the ball around and changing speeds. She’s also hitting the ball well. She’s our main girl this year and she is handling it well.”

The moves were made to tighten up the defense, and results were evident against MacArthur on Tuesday.  Whether it was Macri going back nicely to make a play on a ball hit to the warning track, or Sieber snagging a ball hit in the hole at short, or Considine blocking balls behind the plate.

Carcaterra, a sophomore who had been swinging a hot bat, has helped solidify the bottom of the batting order. She joins what is already a formidable lineup, with the big bats of Pandolfo, who had three RBIs and finished a home run shy of the cycle against MacArthur, and Gariglio and Sieber, both of whom collected two hits in each of the last two victories.

But for the new-look Chiefs, the most important change of all has been the results.

“We shook our lineup up quite a bit,” Donovan said.  “It seems to have refocused the girls and we’re hoping to peak at the right time.”