Pitchers such as Samantha Giovanniello and Isabella Corrao call for minimum offensive support, provide peace of mind and generate a high probability of county championships and upstate road trips.
When they are on the mound, the ball -- and the team -- is in good hands.
Led by Giovanniello, a junior who went 20-5 with a 0.54 ERA and 328 strikeouts and was named first-team all-state and Newsday's Nassau Player of the Year last season, Floral Park is primed to win its third straight Class A Long Island championship.
Having an All-Long Island pitcher and third-team all-state selection in Corrao, a senior who had a 0.86 ERA and 251 strikeouts with two no-hitters last season, makes Farmingdale the team to beat in Class AA.
Joining Corrao on top-seeded Farmingdale is junior shortstop Kat Zabielski and sophomore second baseman Kerri Ossenfort. East Meadow, coming off its first county championship since 1994, returns centerfielder Samantha Miller, first baseman Jamie Laird and sophomore shortstop Danielle Cutuli. MacArthur, the county runner-up, is led by a pair of All-Long Island selections in junior Kristen Brown and sophomore Jena Cozza. Mepham will be strong up the middle with junior catcher Claudia Law and senior second baseman Shannon McLean complementing pitcher Victoria Gunnels. Long Beach features junior shortstop Kelsey McLaughlin and sophomore pitcher Ashley Martin. Carey is led by senior shortstop Brianne Catalano and senior centerfielder Jessica Doria.
Giovanniello is one of many returnees for defending champion Floral Park, which also features senior catcher Melissa Correa and senior first baseman Allison Bostrom. Plainedge has a first-team all-state ace of its own in senior Michelle Daubman, who struck out 20 in the Class A final, and an all-state catcher in Stephanie McKenna. Seaford, a perennial contender, is led by sophomore Lindsay Montemarano, who hit .600 and tied for a county high with eight home runs last season, and senior shortstop Victoria Wink. Island Trees features Taylor Tedeschi, a senior pitcher with great control and off-speed stuff, along with her younger sister Tori, a sophomore infielder, and senior catcher Justine Abramowski. New Hyde Park will be in contention behind junior pitcher Lisa O'Callaghan.
The junior tandem of pitcher Ashley Cole and catcher Leanne Iannucci, batterymates since seventh grade, make Carle Place the team to beat. Sophomore second baseman Joanna Sugar and sophomore catcher Danielle Agostinello will provide the offense for defending Long Island champion Oyster Bay until the healthy return of senior shortstop Joshlyn Grant. Moving up a class is East Rockaway, the Class C county champions, who are led by a pair of juniors in shortstop Kerrianne Vulpis and first baseman Lindsey Dinowitz.
Friends Academy's senior catcher Correy Denihan, whose eight home runs tied for the most in the county last season, leads a high-powered offense that will provide plenty of run support for junior Paige Elgarten, the team's ace.