Junior-led North Shore thriving


North Shore softball is off to a fine start under first-year coach Nicole Petrucci, who served as the varsity’s assistant for three seasons and is working with a junior-dominant roster.

The Vikings won six of their first eight games against Conference 5 rivals and sit in the upper third of the 14-team standings with five games remaining.

“We returned a ton of juniors and most of them are part of our everyday lineup,” Petrucci said. “We started strong and hoping to finish just as strong.”

Third-year starting pitcher Grace Ryan is only a junior and relies heavily on her accuracy to get the job done. “She gets the ball over the plate consistently and is an excellent fielding pitcher,” Petrucci said of Ryan, who did it all April 10 in an 11-5 victory over Locust Valley with a complete game in the circle and a 3-for-3, two RBI performance at the plate.

North Shore’s lone senior, Jolie Waiksnis, scored three times that day and knocked in a pair or runs. She’s sparking the offense from the leadoff spot and made the move from outfield to shortstop to anchor the infield. “Jolie is incredibly athletic and stepped up undoubtedly as a leader,” Petrucci said. “She has great range in the field and is everything you want in a leadoff batter. Good things happen when she gets on base.”

Petrucci has the luxury of three catchers on the roster with sophomore Elsa Lanne topping the depth chart. She’s a solid all-around catcher who’s bat led the way in North Shore’s 13-1 win over Freeport as she went a perfect 3-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored April 8. Junior Taylor Silvia, who also catches and serves as the designated hitter, went 2-for-2 and scored twice.

Silvia’s speed and bat control are keys to manufacturing runs. “She’s a good bunter and one of our fastest kids,” Petrucci said.

Junior Vanessa Jahnke is another option behind the plate who mainly patrols center field. She’s made “big growth” in her game, the coach noted, and went 3-for-3 April 16 as the Vikings rolled to a 17-5 victory over Great Neck North. Junior Alex Levin, who starts in left field, added a pair of hits that afternoon and scored twice as sophomore Ava Varasano earned the win in the circle.

Making an impact as a freshman is Megan Whitcomb, who starts at first base and is a staple in the lineup as the No. 5 batter. She ranks among the team leaders in RBIs and seven of those came in a blowout victory over Lawrence in the season opener. She also homered in that one.

Junior Adriana Porcano, who starts at third base and can spell Whitcomb at first on occasion, is off to a hot start with the bat as well. Porcano had three RBIs against Lawrence and scored three runs against Great Neck North. Junior Julianna Gaeta had a big day at the plate against Locust Valley, reaching base all four plate appearances and scoring three runs. Junior Loisa Ludmar is rock steady with the glove at second base and forms a strong defensive tandem up the middle with Waiksnis.