Long Beach punches playoff ticket


The Long Beach softball team is heading back to the playoffs this spring and more than doubled its win total from a year ago thanks in part to a switch to Nassau Conference 3.

The Marines won just three games in 2023 while competing in Conference 2, during which they were held to three or fewer runs 13 times in those 19 regular-season contests. But thanks to a rejuvenated offense that featured six batters hitting better than .370, they finished 7-8 in the conference and 7-10 overall.

Long Beach celebrated Senior Day by punching its postseason ticket with a 7-3 victory over Hicksville on May 4. Senior Emmalee Eagan yielded just two runs and struck out five for the victory and went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI and two runs scored. 

“If you asked me at the beginning of the season that we’re going to get seven wins and make the playoffs, I would have told you, ‘I don’t know,’” coach Carmine Verde said. “I’m really glad that they set a goal for themselves and really wanted to make the playoffs and the fact that we clinched the spot on Senior Day was icing on the cake.”

Junior first baseman Myla Sanchez belted her third three-run home run of the season in the fifth inning to put the game away. She was batting nearly .380 heading into the final game of the season and the homer pushed her RBI total to 11.

“She has really transformed herself from where she was last season to this season,” Verde said. “She’s a totally different player, maturity wise, skill wise and production.”

The Marines had a dramatic win at Carle Place two days earlier. After Plainedge shut them out on April 30, the girls went scoreless in the first five frames against the Frogs before exploding for 13 runs and 11 hits in the sixth for a 13-2 victory.

Eighth-grader Sydney Olivo walked to start the rally and after two singles loaded the bases, Long Beach drew two more walks to tie it. Eagan then put the Marines ahead with a two-run single and her and Hailey Cardiello added RBI doubles later in the frame.

But the offense and defense suddenly went cold in season-ending shutout losses at Herricks and Island Trees in consecutive days last week, leaving Verde concerned heading into the playoffs. Errors also played a key role in both of the Marines' one-run playoff losses the last two years.

Eagan’s batting average has jumped from .280 in 2023 to .410 this season with 13 RBIs and 12 runs scored heading into the Island Trees game to go with two victories as a pitcher.

“She’s having a career year,” Verde said. “Light years ahead of last year.”

Sophomore hurler Bella Gray won the other five games.

Cardiello (.529 batting average), sophomore catcher Jorjia Domingo (.464), second baseman Andie Spiteri (.457), and senior right fielder Franki Kelleher (.393) were also having tremendous years at the plate. All of those marks were through May 8.