Led by two returning All-Long Island seniors -- catcher Courtney Syrett and pitcher Michelle DeVito -- Bay Shore is ready to give defending Suffolk champion East Islip a run for the money.
Syrett (Ole Miss) can hit for power, shown by her team-leading six home runs and .553 batting average in 2012, and can throw runners out with the best of them from behind the plate.
The Marauders could score early and often, depending on the production of senior leadoff hitter Giana Panariello (Harvard), a returning second-team All-Long Island shortstop. Syrett and junior first baseman Sarah Edwards will bat in the middle of the order and be counted on to drive in runs.
DeVito is throwing harder than last year, according to coach David Rivera, and will bring her selection of pitches to the circle, including the changeup, a punch-out pitch.
East Islip, which ousted Bay Shore in the county semis last season, is counting on senior first baseman Shelby Heyward to carry the load offensively. The returning All-County first baseman led the Redmen in hitting with 45 hits, a .474 average and 31 RBIs.
Third baseman Kelsey Fileccia returns to the fold after tying for the Suffolk lead in home runs with six. First-year lefthander Courtney Greene, an eighth-grader, takes the circle.
The Redmen were League III champs and move to IV this season. "If Suffolk is counting us out, I'm telling you right now, they're in for a big surprise," East Islip coach Jason McGowan said.
Bay Shore will have its hands full with League II runner-up and county semifinalist Connetquot. The Thunderbirds have most of its team back, led by senior cleanup hitter Casey Shannon, a third-year starter at first base.
West Islip is an up-and-coming team, led by League II Pitcher of the Year Alyssa Monteverde.
Smithtown West is a team to look out for in League III, featuring eight returning starters, led by Kayla McCoy. The LIU Post-bound shortstop and first baseman was named the league's Player of the Year last season, and garnered second-team All-Long Island honors.
League IV's Deer Park has its entire 13-player roster returning, led by two-time second team All-L.I., two-time All-County and last season's fourth-team All-State shortstop Sabrina Riley leading the way. Hills West should be formidable behind junior Francesca Casalino, a returning second-team All-L.I. pitcher.
Longwood, the defending League I champ, will rely on shortstop and pitcher Noel Lent to lead the well-rounded group, featuring second baseman Leah Mele, catcher Alex Russo and rightfielder Taylor Crofts.
Commack is a threat with two pitchers in righthanders Kiersten Carlomagno, the returning League I Pitcher of the Year, and Kristen Andrews, a returning All-Division junior. Whereas Carlomagno, a senior, will overpower opponents, Andrews' greatest strength is the movement of her pitches.
Patchogue-Medford and Sachem East are also potent teams. The Flaming Arrows return All-Division pitcher Marissa Smith and centerfielder Samantha Marrone, as well as All-County third baseman Cassie Asselta, who will move to her natural catcher position.
Sayville remains on top of the heap. The Golden Flashes will defend their state title with League VI Player of the Year Emily Sellitti back in the fold. The shortstop is one of several big core players back for coach Tiffany Rowan, including sisters Cindy and Jessica Griffin, both three-year starting outfielders. Rowan is counting on two new No. 1 pitchers in first-year junior lefthander Julia Simpson and senior righthander Amanda Eremita.
Most teams not named Sayville have pitchers back. Islip's League V Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore is junior lefthander Vanessa Juengerkes, who also led the Bucs and Class A in home runs with seven.
Eastport-South Manor returns eight position players, led by All-County senior shortstop Dana Taglioni. County runner-up East Hampton has junior righthander Casey Waleko.
Mount Sinai and junior lefthander Holly Drasser move from League VII to VI and Shoreham-Wading River and senior pitcher Chelsea Hawks move from League VI to VII.
Babylon returns as the three-time county champion, an L.I. champion, and a Southeast Regional participant. It will look to improve on last season's 22-1 record behind four-year starter and senior third baseman Brianna Goodfellow, a first-team All-State and two-time All-County pick. Shortstop Nicole Marro, a four-year starter, will also provide senior leadership as a two-time All-County and third team All-State player.
Returning All-Division third baseman Tori Fahie and Center Moriches and reigning League VII Rookie of the Year freshman pitcher Marley Tyler, of Hampton Bays, should give Babylon a run for its money.
Junior Kasey Gilbride gives Pierson-Bridgehampton its best chance at repeating as county champ. The All-County shortstop, who bats third, has been named as such since her freshman season. Just having Gilbride on the field makes players such as junior catcher Emma Romeo better. Sophomore pitcher Sam Duchemin, who has been with the Whalers since the eighth grade, is the team's ace. Stony Brook is perennially strong inside the four-team class.