Oceanside strives for consistency


With no seniors, a season-ending back injury to its top slugger, junior Logan Denman, and four starting freshmen, Oceanside’s softball team faced unknowns entering the 2023 campaign. 

But the Sailors are off to a commendable 4-4 start — 3-4 in Conference 1. At its best, Oceanside is showing it can compete with the elite. 

Early in the campaign, Oceanside battled Nassau County’s most fearsome team so far, MacArthur, into extra innings, losing 4-2 in the ninth. 

“We took the best team in the county to extra innings,’’ Sailors coach Carlo Quagliata said. “When we put it all together, we can beat anybody. But we also can have hiccups.’’

The coach was referring to an 11-3 setback to East Meadow April 13 and last Saturday’s 16-4 loss at Massapequa. The defense fell apart versus East Meadow and Oceanside allowed eight unearned runs that busted a two-game winning streak after last week’s victories over Clarke and three-time defending Nassau Class A champion Mepham. Now it faces a two-game losing streak. 

“Our defense let us down but that’s expected of an extremely young team,’’ Quagliata said. “With a young squad they’re learning as they go. We’re searching for consistencies.’’

Last season’s squad suffered through a 5-11 campaign and ouster in the first round of the AA playoffs to Syosset. Seven seniors graduated from that Oceanside squad, including three who play college softball - pitcher Skylar LoPiccolo. (Oswego), catcher Ashlee Martinez (Lynne University in Boca Raton) and Samantha Reyer (Manhattanville College).

That opened a lot of starting slots and four freshmen seized the moment occupying much of the infield. There’s first baseman Erin Murray, pitcher/first baseman Caroline Ferchland, shortstop Riley Brasch and third baseman Karley Handleman.

“They’re all hitting and Caroline is doing well pitching,’’ Quagliata said.  “Offensively they’re doing well - all contributing. We’ve had wins they were at the center of it.’’

Oceanside is getting by despite Denman’s surgery and an early season finger injury to sophomore Christina Vlahakis, who can not play the field, unable to throw. That’s hurt the defense but she’s batting a team-leading .429. “(Denman) was our big lumber – our 4-5 batter,’’ Quagliata said. 

The success of the two top returnees has been no surprise. All-County selections, junior outfielder Samantha Chaisson, and junior catcher Sophie Nesturrick are both are hitting well over .400. The latter has already committed to play for Fordham.

Sophomore Maya Levy has been a pleasant surprise, batting .316. Levy hit her first home run versus Clarke. 

“We have really good power up and down the lineup,’’ Quagliatta said. 

The coach likes the team’s ability not to give up, citing two comeback wins in rallying to beat Syosset after trailing 6-2 in the fifth inning to pull out an 8-6 win. On April 11 against Mepham, the Sailors trailed  5-2 in the 7th and squeaked out a 6-5 last-inning victory. 

Because of its pitching, Oceanside could vie for a playoff win or two. They boast a three-pitcher rotation in All-Conference junior, Olivia Ike, sophomore Kate Hyland and Ferchland, the freshman who’s best role is as closer.

But even if Oceanside doesn’t have a big postseason, the program should return all its players for 2024 and with a healthy Denman. Quagliata can’t wait. 

“Yes I’m excited for next year but we can still do big things this year,’’ Quagliata said.