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Suffolk Softball Sensations: Dominique Soto, Miller Place
Dominique Soto didn't have much of a choice but to go behind the plate for the Miller Place softball team prior to its League VI game against Eastport-South Manor on May 1.
Soto, who is the Panthers’ regular third baseman, was tapped to play catcher by coach Danielle Hazen not only because she was capable, but because there was no one else to help fill the void.
“We knew she could do it, but we were more concerned with losing something at third base,” said Hazen, a four-year varsity starter at second base for Miller Place upon graduating in 2004. “It turned out to be great. She’s been nothing but awesome behind the plate.”
The same can be said regarding the play of junior Emily Guiseppone, who filled in for Soto at third. The two have been key cogs for Miller Place (17-3 overall, 17-2 League VI) as it clinched the league title Wednesday with a 3-2 home win over East Hampton.
“She kind of controls everything on the field from where she is,” Hazen said of Soto, a junior co-captain, who was batting .367, with nine RBIs, 24 runs and an on-base percentage of .529 in her third season heading into the East Hampton game. “She’s been way better than I expected. She’s throwing runners out, blocking wild pitches and passed balls, and calling a great game for our pitchers. She’s controlling and keeping everyone together on the field.”
During the weekly Suffolk Softball Sensations Q&A segment, Soto discussed the significance of the aforementioned Eastport-South Manor contest, a 2-1 win for the Panthers, that became a superstitious routine for both player and coach moving forward this season, as well as naming an inspirational figure that made her cringe when saying her name, before having a laugh about it.
1) How has the adjustment been moving from third base to catcher? “It’s really different, a completely different position. I’m more involved in every single pitch and I get a say in the game because I get to call all the pitches. It’s been kind of difficult, but I’m used to it. I was nervous and confident at the same time.”
2) What made you say yes to the switch? “I knew it was me or nobody else. Jacqueline Gallagher was going to pitch and catch to herself [laughs].”
3) Are you enjoying catcher more now? Or will you eventually move back to third base? “Next season, I will definitely be back at third base. Third base is my main position. I’m more confident there and I like it better. I’ve been doing it my whole life. If you need me behind the plate, I’m used to it now.”
4) Can you explain the success this season for Miller Place? “Going in, we didn’t know. A lot of things were going to be different from last season. We’ve come together a lot more than in past years.”
5) What’s the game of the year this season? “Our second Sayville game [a 6-4 home win for Miller Place, where Soto went 2-for-3, with a run on May 6]. “They’re always our biggest rival. They get in our head, we get in their head. We kept it together, stayed positive. We just acted like the score was 0-0 the whole time.”
6) Who inspires you the most when it comes to softball? “My older sister, [Mount Saint Mary College sophomore third baseman and 2011 Miller Place High School graduate] Danielle Soto. We’ve been playing softball together ever since we were little. I’d copy her, pick up what she would do. She would push me to practice everyday. She taught me baseball mentality, which is to be more aggressive when playing a different game. When you put the two together, it makes you a better player. When I’m hitting, she tells me to forget about everything. She just tells me to be confident in myself.”
7) Do you have any superstitions on the playing field? 1) “I wear two different colored socks, one is black and the other is navy blue, and wear them on opposite feet. The left sock I wear on my right foot and the right sock I wear on my left foot. The black sock is my sister’s and I wear that one on my right foot. 2) Hazen high-fives the team before every inning, before we take the field. I don’t high-five her. I didn’t do it against Eastport-South Manor (May 1) in the bottom of the first and we ended up scoring a run in the top of the second. Since we won that game, coach and I have decided not to high-five each other.”
8) A) Who is the most vocal member of the ball club? B) Who makes you laugh the most? A) “[Senior co-captain] Paige Matuk. She’s always talking, picks people up, always encourages players on the bench. She likes to yell, ‘Let’s Go Boys!’ It’s one of our jokes.” B) “[Sophomore left-fielder] Sage Biamonte and [sophomore center-fielder] Taylor Ludewig. They’re always sarcastic, always happy. They make fun of each other all the time. We also have freestyle, rap battles on the bus. We have one about the team and one about each other, with Hazen in it.”
9) What would you like to major in for college? “Business and accounting.”
10) What’s your favorite iPod song? “Highway Don’t Care by Tim McGraw.”
11) Favorite movie? “Never Back Down ”.
12) Player nicknames? “Dirty D” is my nickname. It started in eighth grade. Sage gave me that nickname. It’s from a Sponge Bob episode. The original name was ‘Dirty Dan’ and Sage changed it to ‘Dirty Dom’ and then ‘Dirty D’. It just works. Yeah, it’s funny.” Sage’s nickname is ‘Big Red’, coach is ‘Hazelnut’, [junior pitcher] Sabrina Stransky is ‘Beans’. [Junior first baseman and co-captain] Allie Krumholz is ‘Krum’.”
13) Three places you would love to visit that you haven’t been to yet? “Bora Bora, Venice and Greece.”
14) Dinner date with three famous people? “Taylor Swift, Chris Brown and Beyoncé.
15) If you were the coach of your team for a day, what would you do differently? “I think Hazen does it right. We always want to play ultimate softball, a game we play like ultimate [frisbee]. We play a six-on-six game of ultimate softball, no hitting, just sprinting and throwing. It’s very competitive. I’d love to do it everyday.”
Tags: softball , Miller Place , East Hampton , Mount Saint Mary College , Sayville , Dominique Soto , Danielle Hazen , Sabrina Stransky , Jacqueline Gallagher , Paige Matuk , Danielle Soto , Taylor Ludwig , Sage Biamonte , Allie Krumholz