Pitching holds key for Valley Stream South


Depth all around and particularly on the mound is the biggest concern for Valley Stream South baseball coach Rich Hess this spring.

“None of our starting pitchers is a pitcher by trade, but these guys take the ball when it’s their turn and give us everything they’ve got,” Hess said of junior Nick Simone and sophomores Danny Casey and Peter Greif. “They’re all athletic kids and pretty similar pitchers except for the arm angles,” he added. “They know the expectations and how important it is to go deep into games and work within the pitch count.”

Per New York State Public High School Athletic Association rules, pitchers are limited to 105 deliveries per week in April and 125 per week in May.

The Falcons, who finished just above .500 last spring in the Countywide Conference at 9-8, returned the majority of their roster as well as senior catcher Nick Alvarez, who missed 2023 to a thumb injury. They’re 4-1 heading into this week’s action.

It’s no coincidence the starting pitching staff proved tough in the early going with Alvarez’s presence behind the plate, Hess said. Casey struck out 10 in a 7-4 victory over Uniondale April 8, Simone didn’t allow a walk and fanned 4 in a 13-3 win over the Knights the following afternoon, and JV call-up Daniel Jallim went five scoreless innings in the April 11 finale, an 11-1 win.

“Nick is extremely committed to the sport and our team,” Hess said of Alvarez, who batted .400 as a sophomore in 2022 and was among the team leaders in RBIs in addition to his defensive talent. “He plays year-round and no doubt is going to help our pitchers every day.”

Casey will get the nod in the first game of every series, Hess said, bat fifth in the lineup and play first base and third base when Simone and Greif pitch, respectively. “Danny was our catcher as a freshman and can play anywhere we need him,” Hess explained. “This is his first taste of pitching varsity and so far, so good.”

Simone, who hits leadoff and patrols center field on non-pitching days, saw some innings of work on the varsity mound last spring but is also stepping into a bigger role. “He’s a fantastic outfielder who catches everything and a smart hitter who’s always been at the top of the order,” Hess said. “He pitched a great game against Uniondale. He knows we need that kind of performance as much as he can give it to us.”

Greif hit over .300 last season and will play third base twice per week as he gets eased into the pitching rotation.

Senior shortstop Mike Hernandez is a fourth-year varsity player with a plus arm, bat and speed, Hess noted. Hernandez was All-League in 2022 and missed a chunk of last year with an injury. At second base, Giada Simone played every inning of every game and brings strong all-around skills and mental toughness. Sophomore Zach Dyer plays left field and first base, and senior Ryan Rivera starts in right field.