By John Grimaldi
Despite the recent weather in this month of March, it is officially spring. Which means softball season is about to begin and the Colts of Half Hollow Hills High School West are looking to make their way back to the top of Suffolk.
And the Colts got off on the right foot Tuesday afternoon when they defeated rival Hills East, 12-1, in their first non-league game of the season.
Last season yielded a second-place league finish with a 13-8 record for the Colts; now four years removed from the school’s first ever Suffolk title.
“We lost a lot of seniors going into last year, a lot of new kids in new places,” said head coach Bryan Dugan. Each player from the 2014, Suffolk-championship-winning squad has now moved on from the program.
The Colts will rely on their three senior captains with center fielder Michelle Kaplan, who enters her third year on varsity; All-County shortstop Rachel Katz; and senior pitcher-hitter Jillian Weinstein, who racked up nine home runs, 51 RBI and a .526 batting average last year. Weinstein, who earned All-Long Island Second Team honors, can also throw seven different pitches on the mound.
“She’s a game changer,” Dugan said. “She is going to be the one to lead us.”
Weinstein did just that against Hills East, finishing her day at the plate 3-for-5 with two home runs, good for four RBI and two runs scored.
She also recorded 10 strikeouts on the mound as part of her two-hitter.
Katz, meanwhile, was 3-for-5 and scored three runs.
This Colts team is especially good up the middle of the field, said Dugan, where Katz is joined by junior Kaela Perri, who enters her second year on varsity. Perri hit .386 last year in 21 games played.
Dugan also added that another “pleasant surprise” is freshman catcher Marissa Farino. She’s one of three freshman on this year’s team along with outfielder Alexa Hinke and utility player Karlie Cennmo.
“Marissa is quite but hopefully throughout the season she develops into a leader,” Dugan said.
Dugan is also looking for junior first baseman Ashley Rogers to step up, along with junior third baseman Rebecca Schnieder, who he said did not get much playing time last year, but is now taking on the starting role. Allison Snyder will also be a key factor on offense, getting on base and using her speed to make things happen, Dugan said.
The Colts have “all the pieces to make a deep run,” said Dugan. “If the pieces fall into place and we get our hits along with good pitching and defense, we can definitely compete for another league title.”
Their next test was slated for Wednesday, after deadline, against Smithtown West, another non-league game. Moving forward, the Colts are scheduled to welcome Copiague for another non-league contest on Monday, 10 a.m.