VSS rebuilds after big departures


For Demetri Adrahtas, coaching the Valley Stream South softball team used to be about competing for the Nassau County title every year.

But now that South has dropped to Conference 6, Adrahtas knows those days are in the past and that the Falcons have a lot of work to do before they’re back in the championship conversation again after graduating 13 seniors from last season.

Kelailah Martin and Tatianna Roselo are two of the only players with any sort of relevant prior experience. Otherwise, it’s back to basics for everyone else.

“The kids used to come in with some type of a foundation,” Adrahtas said. “The challenge was that they were already at point C or D and getting them up to point E or F. It's a different type of challenge where you're just you're teaching them the game. You're teaching them the rules of the sport, you're teaching them the basic fundamentals, so you just you're approaching it differently.”

Still, the Falcons have begun the year undefeated, winning three straight games Friends Academy, Hempstead and Malverne.

South’s offense has taken advantage of the weak pitching it’s faced thus far, putting up an astonishing 52 runs with Martin at the center of the attack.

The senior has begun her third year on the varsity squad hitting the cover off the ball and has started in each game in the circle for the Falcons, even while not being a pitcher by trade.

A plucky leadoff hitter, Roselo is a catalyst at the top of the order and epitomizes the style of play Adrahtas wants from the rest of the team.

“If you can play small ball, you're going to be successful,” Adrahtas. “If we can run the bases correctly, that's an advantage that you have every game. Situational softball is the thing that we’re working on at first, and what we want to emphasize that with this group. We spend a lot of time on situations and making sure that we understand how to run the bases, understanding the situations when we're fielding and hitting the cut-off and throwing to the right base. Taking an extra base when we're running but preventing [opponents] from taking an extra base too.”

A few players have already begun to catch on.

Second baseman Dayannara Rodriguez is quickly becoming a heart and soul player, and Arianna Riso has settled into her spot both as the cleanup hitter and at catcher. If not for Riso, freshman Helen Aguilar would be the one behind the plate, but is instead pairing with fellow freshman Isabella Murphy a versatile tandem.

So while the days of regularly competing for a championship may be in the rearview mirror, they don’t seem to be that far over the horizon either for V.S. South. In the meantime, Adrahtas is content to work on getting there.

“It brings me so much pleasure. It used to be about playing for a county championship, and that was exciting because the competitive juices flowed,” Adrahtas said. “Now, you're just teaching the sport to somebody who knows nothing about it, and you're passing on that love of the game to somebody, and that's fulfilling.”