East Rockaway is rolling early


East Rockaway softball coach Joe Lores has had a lot to celebrate lately.

Firstly, the arrival of his third grandchild, a boy, who was born on the evening of April 10, and secondly, a torrid 7-2 start for the Rocks.

Through nine games, they’ve outscored opponents by a combined margin of 126-51.

However, Lores is keeping his expectations measured in the early going, given that East Rockaway has taken advantage of weaker competition during its first year down in Conference 5.

“Last year, we were always David playing Goliath. This year, we are Goliath,” Lores said. “We're very competitive with the teams in our conference.”

It’s also been helpful for the Rocks that they’ve returned their entire roster from a year ago.

After taking home All-Conference honors as a freshman last season, sophomore shortstop Charlotte Webster is batting .650 at the top of the Rocks’ order. But of anyone, junior outfielder Isabella DeCunzo has benefitted the most, seeing her average balloon to .500 after barely eclipsing .200 last year.

“When you see the ball coming off the bat and going places, you tend to enjoy that,” said Lores of DeCunzo. “You tend to get confidence from that and tend to want to be up there. She's experiencing that success, and that's bringing about some confidence, which, again, brings more success.”

Along with her bat, DeCunzo has been strong in the circle, throwing a few innings in relief. She earned the win in East Rockaway’s latest victory, a 19-6 thrashing of West Hempstead, which also happened to come on April 10.

Another All-Conference selection, senior Sofia Ramirez, is the usual starting pitcher for the Rocks. Although the offense has been the main theme in East Rockaway, Lores doesn’t believe the team’s pitching should be overshadowed.

“Good pitching should shut down good hitting,” Lores said. “You got to bring it every day to the hold good hitting teams now.”

One of the few seniors on the team, Ramirez’s leadership has been paramount for East Rockaway. She, along with first baseman Leah Ortega-Herrera and outfielders Gabby Martinez and catcher Maddy Netz, is providing a veteran voice for a team that will still have much of its corps intact, even after she’s gone. Netz and junior Angelina Stavropoulosio split responsibilities behind the plate.

“They’ve been here, and they’re the ones who have to show the others what the path is,” said Lores. “They look up to them, especially the ones that are coming up. We have freshmen on the team who don’t really know what the varsity level is all about just yet, but they'll learn from the older ones.”

Of East Rockaway’s first nine games, the closest was a 13-5 defeat at Wheatley. The Rocks managed at least 12 runs in each of their seven victories, including a 13-4 win over Locust Valley in which Ramirez belted two home runs and was the winning pitcher.

Lores and the Rocks will continue their schedule this week, starting with a matchup against Elmont before taking on the likes of Hewlett, Oyster Bay and Manhasset.