It was a trying year for the Syosset High School varsity softball team. The squad finished the year at a disappointing 4-13.
However, there were plenty of bright spots for the Braves. The Tribune spoke to head coach Nicole Shurgin, who discusses the team’s season, highlights, what to expect for next year and more.
Q: What was the year like for the Braves?
A: We had a losing record, but we had a very young team. There were a lot of freshmen. Over the next few years, I’m excited that we’re going to get stronger as they start working together for the next three years.
Q: What did the team do well with?
A: They were great at coming together. They’re a true team, helping each other out. If one person made an error, there was somebody to lift them up. That was great as a coach, as opposed to telling them to do that.
Q: That camaraderie is so important for a young team. How do you feel you helped them with that?
A: I was a positive reinforcement. After every game, we would have a talk to go over the positives and things to work on. During practices, as a group, we would split up and work on things that happened in the previous game.
Q: What does this team need to improve on to get to .500 next year?
A: Our hitting. We need to be better with clutch situations. We left a lot of runners on base.
Q: Who will be your team’s leader next year?
A: Julia Renny and Sofia Caracciolo. Julia batted around .560 this year. She was also an All-County selection. Sofia received an All-County honorable mention as one of our starting pitchers. With some of her improvements, she’ll take the lead role as a pitcher on the mound and keep everyone together.
Q: Who graduated this year that you’ll miss for next season?
A: We lost our right fielder and second baseman, Abby Cushing and Tina Marie Susca. Abby didn’t play for about six years because she has really bad arthritis. She actually came out in a spur-of-the-moment type thing and was fantastic, especially considering she didn’t play for so long. She stuck through it for her senior year. Tina actually tore her ACL last season and missed the whole thing. She came out really strong this year to end her career. She was brought up from junior varsity as an eighth grader.
Q: When kids have such tough injuries, how do you help them cope with it mentally?
A: I show them the mental game that they have to fight through. Nothing in life is ever going to be easy. There’s going to be obstacles they have to overcome. So it’s a good learning experience for them, especially the seniors who are going to college next year and will be more independent.