Oceanside captures Class AAA championship


Senior catcher Sophie Nesturrick had the best seat in the house Memorial Day weekend as Oceanside captured its first Nassau County softball championship since 2015.

The third-seeded Sailors got a lights-out pitching performance from sophomore Caroline Ferchland in Game 2 and completed a sweep of two-time defending champion Massapequa with a 2-0 victory May 26 at Farmingdale State College. Oceanside took the Class AAA best-of-three series opener 24 hours earlier, 4-3, behind a complete-game effort from senior pitcher Olivia Ikes.

“I’ve been dreaming of this for six years and it feels 10 times better than I thought,” Nesturrick said. “It took all of us. We got amazing pitching and timely hitting. I could tell by the third innings Olivia and Caroline were locked in.”

Senior Julia Valukis was in a zone at the plate and left field throughout the series. In Game 1, she threw out a runner at home and went 2-for-3 and scored the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth. In the title-clincher, she singled home junior Maya Levy and sophomore Riley Brasch with the only runs of the afternoon in the bottom of the third.

“It’s going to take a while to sink in,” Valukis said. “We worked so hard and wanted this so much. When we got that last out, our worlds just came together. It’s a feeling I can’t even describe.”

Ferchland struck out eight and scattered four hits. The Chiefs had just one runner reach third base but threatened in the top of the sixth with first and second with one out when junior Christina Vlahakis started an inning-ending double play with a catch in right field. Levy fired the relay throw to Brasch at third base to erase the lead runner.

“Our girls came into the finals with all the confidence in the world,” said Oceanside coach Carlo Quagliata, who was an assistant under Joe Supple the last time the program celebrated a county championship. “The biggest thing for us was getting over the Syosset hump,” he added. “They knocked us out two years in a row and it was sweet revenge beating them in the semifinals.”

The Sailors (17-8) advance to face Sachem East in the Long Island Class AAA title game Friday at 5 p.m. at Martha Avenue Complex in Bellport.

Although Massapequa (17-7) committed four errors in Game 2, it also flashed some outstanding defense. Especially Emily Balducci in left field. She made a dynamic running grab on the warning track in the bottom of the fourth to rob Levy of at least a double, snagged a liner off the bat of Nesturrick in the fifth, and tracked down sophomore Karley Handleman’s deep drive in foul territory in the sixth.

“That’s a tremendous team we beat,” Quagliata said. “From top to bottom, every one of our girls contributed. They deserve this so much. This is all about them. This is my proudest moment coaching. I coached the most talented team in the county.”

Nesturrick went 3-for-3 with a walk, and Vlahakis and senior Logan Denman added two hits apiece in Game 1. Massapequa trailed 4-1 entering the bottom of the seventh but rallied with two runs and had the tying run on first base when Ikes recorded the final out on a liner to Handleman at shortstop.