The transition from coaching baseball to softball presents some inherent challenges. As new coach Jeff Doroski has found out, there are some benefits to softball.
For starters, no more worrying about pick-offs.
“Bad things usually happen when you try to pick guys off base,” Doroski noted.
A longtime baseball coach — most recently at Bishop McGann-Mercy, where he coached junior varsity — Doroski was hired shortly before the season began to replace Bob Fox, who retired after last season.
Doroski takes over a team that had a successful season a year ago, advancing to the quarterfinals of the Class AA playoffs before losing a close game to perennial powerhouse Bay Shore. As Doroski transitions from baseball to softball, he said there are a lot of similarities in the way he runs practice.
“One big difference from baseball is obviously pitching,” Doroski said. “I’m trying to get up to speed with the fundamentals and the techniques and what to look for as far as mechanics.”
The Blue Waves have an experienced coaching core around Doroski. Kelly Fox, the JV coach, has been working with the pitchers. And Dave McKillop, the varsity assistant who worked with coach Fox previously, returned to the staff this year with Doroski.
To help with the transition, Bob Fox has been a resource for Doroski, he said.
“He’s really been great with the transition for me and just being available to talk about certain things,” Doroski said. “Especially who we’re going to see in the league this year.”
So much about softball centers on pitching and the Blue Waves lost a veteran starter to graduation in Amanda Graziano. But ready to fill the void is a talented freshman, Casey Plitt.
“She’s got great control,” Doroski said. “She’s not overpowering but she’s young. She throws strikes and that’s important.”
Doroski said the Blue Waves should have a strong defensive group in the field that will benefit Plitt.
Sophomore Jess Freeborn will also pitch as well, Doroski said, as not to put too much on Plitt’s plate as a freshman.
In the field the Blue Waves return junior Danielle Napoli at shortstop. Napoli is a strong player both in the field and at the plate.
Senior Sara Tucci will play second and third and is a versatile player who’s one of the leaders on the team, Doroski said.
Junior Karla Vanston has a strong bat and will likely hit cleanup. She’ll play first base and last year drove in 17 runs, Doroski said.
Senior Sarah Freeborn, a quick outfielder, will bat at the top of the lineup.
One downer for the Blue Waves to start the season is an injury to senior Stephanie Falisi, who was one of the team’s top hitters last season. Doroski said he expects her to be out at least half the season after she underwent surgery on her ankle.
Doroski said Falisi has remained upbeat during her recovery and continues to be a leader during practices.
“She’s helping with the young kids,” he said. “She’s one of our leaders even though she’s not out there physically.”
Junior Kayla Ormandy will play catcher and sophomore Brittany Staltare will see time in the outfield and behind the plate. Senior Sydney Gobrick will play first base and in the outfield.
Riverhead opens the season Thursday at West Babylon.