There is no clearer statement of the parity in Class AA softball than defending county champion Long Beach being seeded third. The boxing glove the Carey girls will carry to games is the exclamation point.
" . . . Because it's going to be a 15-round match,'' Seahawks coach Anthony Turco explained.
Carey - a county finalist last season - is the top seed and returns seven starters, led by all-county pitchers Patti Callahan (1.12 ERA) and Nicole Turato, and bolstered by shortstop Brianne Catalano and outfielder Jessica Doria.
East Meadow,the No. 2-seed, returns most of last year's squad ("plenty of familiar faces'' coach Cindy McCarthy said), and is led by pitcher Lindsay McKillop. She, along with first baseman Jamie Laird, shortstop Hillary Hoffman, Rachel Sydney and catcher Brittany Anghel, a transfer from St. Dominic, head the roster. Long Beach graduated All-State pitcher Kelly Jansen, but the Marines should be potent with catcher Sidney Folk (.440) and shortstop Haley Birnbaum, a former All-Long Islander who hit .340 in 2009 while battling shoulder tendonitis. Now healthy, she'll be the No. 1 pitcher. Farmingdale made the jump from Conference III to I with the addition of star pitcher Isabella Corrao, a St. Dominic transfer. Oceanside, which features shortstop Samantha Ray, should be among the elite. MacArthur, which reached the second round, should be competitive with Kristen Brown (.380, 2.26 ERA) and a speedy lineup. Massapequa boasts depth, led by second baseman Caitlin Cummings and pitcher Mary Sieber.
Floral Park won last year's state championship behind freshman phenom Samantha Giovaniello. The Knights are led by catcher Melissa Correa (.412) and senior captains Lindsay Trifon and Sara Yackel. But "it all starts over,'' coach Dan Sackman said, and "we're just trying to win our division." The Knights will have to unseat Seaford, which has taken ABC-I six straight seasons and reached the county final. Nicole Schieferstein, Erica Fischetti (.391), Vicky Wink, Gabby Nicholson and pitcher Erika Nogan lead the Vikings. Plainedge could be on the rise with the pitcher/shortstop and co-player of the year Michelle Daubman. Sewanhaka, which lost two 1-run games to Seaford in the playoffs, returns pitcher Monique Roberge and centerfielder Michelle Mongiello. Wantagh, with third baseman Kelly Mignoli, will compete. Valley Stream South has six seniors including Ashley Tkacsik and Christie DeMarco. Island Trees, which beat Floral Park twice in the regular season last year, might be a sleeper led by pitcher Taylor Tedeschi, as could Jericho with shortstop Farrah Waldman and the addition of freshman pitcher Lindsay Divack. Division will compete.
Carle Place, defending LI champion, returns mostly intact, with all-state pitcher Ashley Cole and all-county catcher Leanne Ianucci. Centerfielder Dana McLaughlin is lost with a torn ACL, but freshman Taylor Ruscillo fills in. Tough competition will come from Oyster Bay, which moved back to Class B after winning the C title last season. The Lady Baymen are led by pitcher Kerri Apicella, centerfielder Keri Bongiovanni and shortstop Joshlyn Grant.
East Rockaway, which lost in the county final, has a young team with eight sophomores, but is anchored by junior pitcher Stephanie Loughran and senior captains Allie and Kim Pacheco. Friends Academy graduated seven, but returns pitcher Paige Elgarten and catcher Cor- rey Denihan, who had 10 RBIs against Mineola earlier this week.