The Centereach softball team has started the season with a purpose. Last year the Cougars made the playoffs and went deeper than they had in 15 years before being knocked out by Sachem East. This year head coach Sal Santoro is hopeful that last year wasn't a fluke.
The Cougars graduated five players including four starters from their 2010 squad and Santoro expects them to pick up where they left off last May. The Cougars have already kicked off the season winning their first two games against Smithtown East (8-7) and West Islip (13-1).
"I'm very proud of the kids and what they accomplished last year," said Santoro. "This year I hope that we'll compete for the league title. Right now we're a little banged up. We've only had our full team together for one day. But they're a competitive group."
Junior All-County third baseman Arianna Lapuma is going to help lead the Cougars to a successful season this year. Lapuma hit a whopping .467 with 23 runs batted in last year. Also in the mix is senior All-Division shortstop Jackie Binstock, sophomore All-League pitcher Emma Agostini, freshman first baseman Tia Lapuma and junior centerfielder Monica Papol.
"We have a great mix," said Santoro. "We've got a lot of clutch hitters and some pop in the batting order. Defensively we're young so we have to play solid. Our pitching is good and has some potential. Of course we'll miss Cassie Martinez, our pitcher for the past four years. She won 30 games during that time."
Teams challenging for the top of League III include East Islip, Hills East, West Islip and both Smithtown East and West. "This is a tough league and we're not rebuilding," said Santoro. "I want to be back in the playoffs and compete for a title." I want to be back in the playoffs and compete for a title."