The Huntington High School softball program appeared to be on the rebound last March. After struggling to field a junior varsity team and with a minimal number of players filling the varsity roster in recent years, the Blue Devils saw an explosion of interest with dozens of students turning out for the first week of practice.
That burst of enthusiasm gave way to the COVID-19 pandemic, which first halted and then led to the cancellation of the season. So, Huntington hasn’t played a varsity softball game since May 2019.
The Blue Devils will return 11 players with varsity level experience. They were all either freshman or sophomores the last time Huntington played an interscholastic contest. The players on J. Taylor Finley Middle School’s softball team in 2019 are now in ninth and tenth grades.
Head coach John Walsh and assistant coach Jim Byrnes lead the Blue Devil varsity. Todd Jamison is Huntington’s junior varsity coach. The three veterans are ready to try all over again, firming up commitments from the returnees and recruiting new players to the program.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led Section XI to push back the start of the season from the first week of March to May. The schedule will be condensed with a scaled down number of games. Still, every player will be happy to step foot on the field again and dress in a Blue Devil uniform. The weather will be nicer, too.
The varsity returnees include Brenda Acevedo, Madelyn Bavaro, Marilyn Bonilla, Cynthia Contreras, Lauren Holly, Jasjeet Kaur, Keyla Maldonado Molina, Victoria Mangan, Angie Mata, Kathryn Sanseviro and Cecilia Vanegas Moreno.
“I have been really looking forward to getting back on the field,” Kaur said. “Pre-season looked promising last year so if we play our cards well, we could have a successful season next spring.”
Finley softball veterans who are now on the high school level include Adriana Abbatiello, Layna Abraham, Mackenzie Ahern, Nadeera Ali, Kenya Baker, Kathryn Barba, Devon Boyle, Brooke Fasciano, Natalia Hernandez, Ella Kamenstein, Jessica Maixner, Allison Malone, Damaris Mani-Munoz, Andrea Martinez-Posantes, Ruby Meidenman, Gabriella Miller, Leah Sheran, Haileigh Smith and Lily Tierney.
The Blue Devils hope the enthusiasm that was so evident last March will resurface and continue when the season officially begins in May.
“I’m feeling positive about the upcoming season,” Bavaro said. “Although it was heartbreaking we didn’t get a final season with the many seniors who graduated last June, I’m thinking optimistically about the future and looking forward to a great season. I know there are a lot sophomores who are very skilled, like Haileigh Smith, so I believe this team will be great.”