Bay Shore slugging
Pitching and defense long has been a hallmark of Bay Shore softball, currently ranked No. 2 in the state, and this year is no different. Taylor McGowan and Liz Weber have been scored upon in only one game, a 12-4 win over Connetquot.
But this year, it's Bay Shore's offense that has been surprising, with the Marauders totaling 107 runs In 11 games. After losing the Suffolk Class AA championship in two games, and having a perfect game pitched against them in the deciding Game 2, coach Jim McGowan said it was his offseason focus to improve the Marauders' hitting.
"I vowed that wouldn't happened again," McGowan said of being shut out. "Probably 60 percent of my practices were offensive minded before. This year, we're about 75 percent. More specific drills for our kids' weaknesses and strengths, more batting practice and front tossing and it's really paid off."
Nicole Marzillo missed 2009 with an injury but is batting more than .500 with two home runs this season. Cat Franzone has been "outrageous," batting .620. "Even her outs are lasers," McGowan said. Franzone hit three home runs in a 14-3 win over Floyd on Friday.
Taylor McGowan, who batted under .300 last season, has supplemented her 0.00 ERA with a batting average more than .500. Kelsey Fischer is a .420 hitter.
All that offense, pitching and defense, has enabled Bay Shore to clinch its 28th straight playoff spot only 10 games into the season. But McGowan doesn't see complacency setting in for his crew.
"We're not goal oriented in that sense," he said. "To us it's all about preparation and process, and we always think that good things are going to happen. It's something that you prepare for, but I don't ever take those things for granted. We got that under our belt and we go on to the next goal."
Circle move smooth
Moving the CHSAA softball circle back 3 feet has gone a long way.
Before the 2010 season, the pitching circle was moved from 40 to 43 feet, the standard distance for college circles.
"For pitchers who want to play on the next level, this is the best move," St. John the Baptist coach Brianne Herr said. "That transition for a freshman softball pitcher in college is huge, to make the adjustment from 40 feet to 43 feet is very difficult, so we're really helping them by moving it back."
The move tends to slow down some fastball pitchers but benefits the break of those who specialize in off-speed stuff. "It gives them a little more space to work on spins," Herr said, adding the move has produced more offense.
While there was initially some trepidation toward the move, the presence of travel teams that already had their circles at 43 feet made the transition easier.
"I think for the most part, any player who plays more than just the softball season for their school teams has adjusted, because many of their summer teams do that," said Herr, referencing SJB starter Erin Caputo. Caputo has played for the L.I. Express for three seasons and has a 4-2 record and two shutouts for St. John the Baptist this year. "But even pitchers that haven't played for a travel team have also made the adjustment," Herr said.
Nassau and Suffolk remain at 40 feet for now, but any non-league games between a CHSAA school and public school will abide by the ground rules of the home team.
Finch at Manhasset
The 10 months of fundraising and the resulting six weeks of construction at Manhasset will culminate Sunday with the ribbon-cutting ceremony to introduce Rocky's Field. Softball superstar Jennie Finch will be in attendance.