A trio of Nassau shortstops, featuring East Meadow’s Jenna Laird, Port Washington’s Maddie Gallagher and Oceanside’s Emily Seaver, returns off sophomore seasons with at least a .450 batting average and playing stellar defense at one of the most important positions on the field.
And they all share the love of the control, stability and action a standout shortstop can provide for a team.
“You’re in charge of the infield,” Gallagher said. “You get everybody going, get them hyped up for the game and you get a lot of action over there. You’re kind of like the captain in a way, I think it’s an important role.”
Gallagher, who hit .638 with a 1.896 OPS and 19 extra-base hits with 15 stolen bases, has played on varsity since the seventh grade. She’s verbally committed to play at the University of South Carolina and plays for a travel team based in Tampa, Florida, constantly traveling back and forth.
“I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t love the sport, so everything I do is because I have a love for the sport,” Gallagher said. “So balancing work and softball, it’s not even that big of a deal because everything I’m doing, I love.”
Laird, a two-time Newsday All-Long Island selection and last year’s Nassau Player of the Year, has led the Jets to back-to-back Long Island Class AA championships, and the state championship in 2017. She hit .663 with 56 runs scored, 19 stolen bases and 34 RBIs last season as a true five-tool player.
The junior will be taking on even a larger leadership role this season, which often comes natural to a shortstop. Laird is no exception to that.
“I like that I can put my positive influence on everyone else on the team,” she said. “I just get to use my positive vibes and give it to them.”
But when she’s between the lines, Laird takes control and demands the best of herself.
“My favorite part of shortstop is that you are in charge of the whole infield,” said Laird, who is verbally committed to the University of Missouri. “You can be doing anything. If you call the ball, it’s yours.”
And for Seaver, she even sees similarities between the mindset needed at shortstop and when at the plate. The Oceanside junior hit .455 with 12 home runs and 30 RBIs last season, showing aggression in the batter’s box.
“There’s some similarities, definitely,” Seaver said. “I feel like when I’m at bat, I have to focus on every pitch, be ready for every pitch.”
And with the three playing not only in the same county, but the same conference, friendly competitions and achievement comparisons are bound to happen. This is something the trio embraces.
“It’s definitely motivating because they are both really good players,” Seaver said.
Laird and Gallagher said they are close friends off the field, but the competitive natures between the two constantly come out between the lines.
“We’ve always had that, if you do something, I’m going to try to do something, too, so we go back and forth in competition,” Gallagher said. “But we’re always helping each other get better and strive off each other, competing to get to the next level and eventually get to the SEC and thrive there.”
But before then, there’s still two more years of bragging rights on the line. Laird is trying to keep East Meadow’s championship streak alive and Gallagher and Seaver look to lead their teams to a chance to compete for a state title.
“My goal is just to win,” Laird said. “I love winning and I want to keep winning throughout the whole entire season.”
Other shortstops to watch: Heather Berberich, Calhoun, Sr.; Brianna Castro, Holy Trinity, Sr.; Chrissy Coan, Bay Shore, Sr.; Allison Dell’Orto, East Islip, Sr.; Jaynise Espinal, Glen Cove, Sr.; Jacquelyn Gregorovic, Farmingdale, Sr.; Julie Hilcken, Seaford, Sr.; Akemi Poyer, Elmont, Sr.; Destiny Schook, North Babylon, Sr.; Emily Van O’Linda, Wantagh, Soph.