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Oceanside rolls into playoffs


Of all places to get its bats going after producing double digits in runs in just one of its previous five softball games, Oceanside couldn’t have picked a better place than East Meadow.

The Lady Sailors plated only one run in a blowout loss in the first meeting but came out swinging in the rematch, scoring four times in the top of the first and six times in the second on the way to a 12-2 victory on April 24. The win over the two-time defending Nassau and Long Island Class AA champions poured the foundation for a five-game hot streak that saw Oceanside outscore opponents by a combined 46 runs.

“This is the kind of ball we knew we were capable of playing,” coach Carlo Quagliata said. “We’re hitting big-time now. After what happened against East Meadow the first time, we just wanted to be competitive. We came out swinging and Hallie [Neufeld] pitched great under pressure.”

Oceanside finished 9-4 in conference games and takes an overall record of 11-8 into this Friday’s Class AA playoff opener against Long Beach. A year ago, it fell short in the county finals to East Meadow.

“We lost to them four times last year and hadn’t beaten them in five years,” Quagliata said of the Lady Jets. “It was important to show we could beat them.”

Junior Emily Seaver smacked a two-run triple in the first inning April 24 to set the tone. Seaver, junior Catherine Stanford and sophomore Ashley Corr had three hits apiece and combined for seven RBIs. Neufeld, a junior, tossed a complete game, scattering 10 hits while holding East Meadow to five scoreless innings. She got out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the first.

The opening-inning success continued five days later as the Lady Sailors cruised to a 12-1 victory over Hicksville in a Conference AA-I/II crossover. They scored five runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back. Seaver and Stanford scored three times apiece and junior Rebecca Bauman had four RBIs to back Neufeld’s four-hit gem.

“Hicksville came in undefeated,” Quagliata said. “You never know enough about a crossover opponent, but we knew they had beaten some quality teams.”

The hit parade carried over into May, as a three-run top of the second and six-run top of the third helped Oceanside breeze past Port Washington, 15-2, on the first of the month. Stanford, who is batting .530, came a triple shy of the cycle and knocked in five runs to lead the offensive fireworks. Seaver, who recently moved from shortstop to third base, crossed the plate four times and Junior Elena Rubino had two RBIs.

The streak continued May 7 as backup pitcher Nicole Ricottone, a senior, blanked visiting Plainview, 9-0. She allowed five hits and struck out four in an impressive spot start. Senior Jenna Valentin had a big day at the plate (3-for-4, three RBIs) and on the basepaths with a pair of steals.

“Hitting is contagious and we’re looking to keep it going in the playoffs,” Quaglaita said.