Minutes after completing the opening week of practice March 13, even before Mepham’s softball team made the short trek from the field to the high school building, coach Brenda Dolan received word the district was shutting down the following Monday and Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It took a few seconds before the girls realized no school meant no practice,” said Dolan, who last spring guided the Lady Pirates to the Nassau Class A title, marking the program’s first-ever county championship. “These are scary times,” she added. “We’re three weeks into this and it’s going to be a day-by-day and week-by-week situation. My phone is blowing up with messages and emojis from the girls, and I’m just trying to keep their spirits up and stay positive.”
Schools throughout Nassau County are closed through April 29, and President Donald Trump extended social-distancing guidelines through the end of the month. Section VIII Executive Director of Athletics Pat Pizzarelli said no decision would be made on spring sports until schools get the green light to open.
For a senior-laden team like Mepham, which has six major award winners and state championship dreams, it’s difficult to think about the worst-case scenario. “It would be really heartbreaking if we don’t play, but there’s not much we can do about it except keep hoping for the best,” said Hofstra University-bound senior Brianna Morse, the 2019 Nassau Player of the Year and First Team All-State selection who batted .623 with 17 RBIs, 22 runs and 17 stolen bases. “Our team has a special bond,” she added.
Morse (second base) is part of a star-studded infield that includes her younger sister, Alanna, a sophmore, at third base, senior Stefanie Simone at shortstop, and sophomore Gianna LaSpira at first base. Other returning senior standouts are Jenna Giliberti in center field and Emma Greiner in the pitching circle.
“We’re like a family, and everyone wants to be on the field,” Dolan said, but “health and safety come first.”
Unlike Mepham’s softball roster, Calhoun’s girls’ lacrosse program is loaded with youth. The Lady Colts also boast a pair of seniors, Kerry Pearson and Kerri Keener, said coach Melissa Rohr.
“I’m in constant contact with the girls,” she said. “While this is all disappointing and sad for the athletes and coaches, when you think about medical staff and first responders on the front line, and what some families are going through, you understand and appreciate that things are being done to keep people safe and healthy.”
Kennedy baseball coach Mike Gattus remains positive that some form of a season will happen. The Cougars have four seniors — Vin DiMartino, Anthony Comunale, Chris Costaro and John Ohanian — and are looking to be a playoff team in a highly competitive Nassau Class A.
“We’ve put in a ton of time to prepare, and I would love for our kids and community, when it is safe to return to school, to be able to play baseball this spring,” he said.