VSN on rise after slow start


After starting 1-3 in Conference A4, Valley Stream North’s softball team pulled itself up by winning four of five to get within a game of .500.

The slow start was due in large part a pair of star players, a pitcher and catcher, graduating last June, meaning those were big losses at key positions according to coach Daniel Tronolone.

The last two and a half weeks have been a momentum shift, as the Spartans went 3-2 dating back to April 13, with wins over Garden City, Jericho and Port Washington, in large part due to defensive realignment within the squad.

“So I moved our third baseman, Lea Giaconelli, to catcher, because we graduated a girl that started at catcher for six years,” Tronolone explained. “And then I moved our right fielder, who’s a seventh grader, Jainessa Melendez, to third base, and I think we probably got stronger in both positions.”

Sophomore center fielder Tiffany Melendez ignites the offense from the leadoff spot with an eye-popping .750 with 24 runs and 15 steals. “She’s been our best player so far,” Tronolone said.

You can’t look at diamond sports and not look at the pitching: the team boasts junior Samantha Ravo and senior Isabella Healey to put in the circle, with varying and wide-ranging arsenals.

“They’re both different pitchers,” Tronolone said. “Sam’s more of a strikeout pitcher and Isabella kind of pitches to contact.”

In addition to the recent changes, a strong upperclassmen presence act as an anchor. Valley Stream North has five seniors, captains for the rest of the team to look up to: first baseman Emily Rung, second baseman Karina McNamara, shortstop Alyanna Nadal, the aforementioned catcher Giaconelli, and Cianna Nadal, all players with varsity experience since their sophomore year.

“They’re just a great group of kids,” Tronolone said. “Basically they run the show, they know what we do and how our team runs and I don’t have to do much, they know what’s expected of them and they get it out of the other girls.”

The strength of the senior leadership really came to light during the team’s slow start because it was them that kept spirits high among the 18-man roster.

“I think we just realized that we’re just as good as all of these teams if we play to our ability, so everyone just agreed that if we show up and play the way we’re capable of playing, then there’s no reason why we can’t beat [teams] in every game that we play,” Tronolone said. “I think as we started to win a little bit, people started to see that, hopefully it just snowballs.”

The Spartans have already seen changes internally, with Tronolone saying practice has felt more upbeat, with everyone excited and looking forward to the next game.

“When we were struggling a little bit it was kind of dragging, and it felt like there was so much left on the season,” Tronolone said. “Now that we’re playing better, it’s more exciting and we kind of can see the finish line and are trying to make a playoff push.”

With playoffs on the horizon, it’s all about perfecting form day by day.

“I think we’re just taking it one game at a time and then see where we stand at the end,” Tronolone explained.