The two-time defending conference champions have picked up right where they left off.
Hewlett’s softball team is again among the top teams in Conference AB-VI with a 5-2 start and have won three straight following its only two losses of the season. At press time, the Lady Bulldogs were tied with Elmont for second place with 3-1 records within the division, one game behind leader Carle Place.
Only the winner of the conference advances to the postseason and Hewlett coach Vin Lospinuso is pleased with his team’s positioning so far.
“Our kids [and] new starters are getting better,” he said. “I knew we’d get better by the fifth or sixth game and we should be starting to peak.”
The Lady Bulldogs could be undefeated if not for two late collapses. Against both West Hempstead and Carle Place, they held 5-3 leads entering the sixth inning at home before yielding two runs in the sixth inning and the winning run in the seventh for 6-5 defeats.
“Incredible,” Lospinuso lamented. “It was an error with West Hempstead and Carle Place we had a couple of mental mistakes. In the two losses, we left eight [or] nine runners on base.”
Offense is again at a premium for Hewlett by averaging just over 11 runs a game, including a whopping 22 in a rout against winless Cold Spring Harbor on April 4. Lospinuso credited the top half of his batting order for providing the bulk of the scoring, but also knows his team could be dominant with more production from the bottom half.
“If we get some consistent hitting from 6-9, we’re even better,” he said. “[Last year], I had some [batters] in the bottom that got some big hits and moved runners over.”
Valarie Liao-Greene, who earned All-County honors last year, has pitched like an ace so far by winning all five games for the Lady Bulldogs on the mound against just one defeat. Lospinuso said the sophomore is throwing harder this season and refining her changeup, resulting in three double-digit strikeout performances so far.
Liao-Greene is also helping herself out at the plate in the leadoff spot, hitting at a .500 clip while also leading the team is runs scored and stolen bases. She went 4-for-4 with 5 RBIs against Great Neck South on March 28.
Outfielder Emma Blumenstein is again putting on a power display with three home runs, including two against Cold Spring Harbor on April 4, to go with a team-leading 10 RBIs. Fellow junior catcher Izzy Martino, who Lospinuso said was his most improved player last spring, is batting over .300 and had three hits and a home run against Great Neck South.
Freshman first baseman Molly Williams is also over .300 and has been one of Hewlett’s better clutch hitters.
The Lady Bulldogs embark on a five-game road trip that started Wednesday after presstime with a rematch at Great Neck South. The run continues against Manhasset, a key rematch with Carle Place, Elmont and Cold Spring Harbor.