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A happy wrap to a Shelter Island softball season

Monday, May 15, the last game for the Shelter Island junior varsity softball team, was a time for reflection on a fun and successful season.

The Ross Ravens were visiting, and there was a nice group gathered to honor the seniors on the softball and spring track teams.

Mary Gennari received accolades for her contributions to the softball and track programs, while Alex Burns, Andrea Napoles and Madison Springer were honored for their leadership on the track team.

After the seniors were recognized, the team gathered their equipment and prepared to take the field. I took the opportunity to ask a few players to tell me what they learned during or enjoyed most about the softball season.

As her teammates laughed along with her, relative new-comer Susie Kane said, “I learned that the ball isn’t actually soft. And I loved getting closer to teammates.”

Mackenzie Speece echoed that sentiment. “My favorite thing was the bus rides. We have fun together and are good sports.” 

Tola Bliss was reflective, saying she was a little sad the season was coming to a close. Some games ended up being canceled, and she wanted more time with her teammates.

Lauren Gibbs was proud that the team won their first game in several years and continued to push throughout the season to get better and be positive.

As the team headed out to the field, it became obvious that Coach Rando’s hard work with the team to help each player grow and be flexible was bearing fruit.

During the course of the game three different Islanders pitched, while the fielders shifted positions without skipping a beat.

Harper Congdon pitched the first three innings, notching four strikeouts, and a nice catch on a pop-up. Sophie Clark who had turned a double play with a nice catch and tag out, took over for Condgon in the middle of the 4th inning.

Clark also had a tremendous hit to left field later in the 4th off the hard-throwing Ross pitcher. The blast earned her both an RBI and her first home run.

Lili Kuhr, who had made a great stop in the gap to tag out a Ravens player, came in for the 5th and final inning  as the third pitcher of the game for the Islanders.

Kaitlyn Gulluscio backed Kuhr up with her heads-up fielding, sprinting and stretching out to get a ball which landed in short right field.

In the end, tough pitching by the Ravens didn’t allow the Islanders to get the runs they needed to get a victory. However, as the small but mighty team gathered for their final huddle, it was obvious that winning was not the most important goal of the season.

Coach Rando praised the girls. “Good job today, and thank you for an awesome season. You worked your butts off, and even got a win. You were amazing for such a small team.”

Coach Rando presented team captain Gennari with a softball signed by the entire team.

In her always kind and inclusive style, Gennari finished her final game by leading the team in the post-game huddle with the cheer “Family!”

As the only senior, she was sad to have her last high school athletic season behind her, but knows the team is building for the future.

Gathering the equipment, the team headed back to the locker room, the unity and happiness just to be able to play with friends coming through loud and clear.

(Credit: Cindy Belt)