Cypress Bay softball team motivated by losses

 

Two close losses in the state playoffs are fueling the Cypress Bay softball team to win a state championship this season.

ANDREW ULOZA / FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

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KEY DATES

March 6-8: Speedball Classic

March 13-15: SlamFest tournament

April 3-5: Kissimmee Klassic

April 14-18: Districts

April 23-24: Regional quarterfinals

April 29: Regional semifinals

May 2: Regional finals

May 7-10: State tournament at Vero Beach Sports Village

DEFENDING STATE CHAMPIONS

Class 8A: Coral Reef; 7A: St. Thomas Aquinas; 6A: Lake City Columbia; 5A: Lake Wales; 4A: Gulliver; 3A: Delray American Heritage; 2A: St. Petersburg Canterbury; 1A: Bristol Liberty County.

SEASON OUTLOOKS

AMERICAN HERITAGE: Coach: Marty Cooper (22nd year overall, 11th at AH); Last year: 23-5, lost in 5A state semifinal 2-0 to Creekside; Top players: Ashley Belans (sr. SS); Gianna Arrizurietta (sr. 3B); Jenna Goodrich (jr. P); Noteworthy: AH’s five state titles (2004-2012) are a Broward record and the fourth-most in Florida history.

ARCHBISHOP McCARTHY: Coach: James Woodruff (2nd year overall, 1st year here); Last year: 12-12, lost in last 6A regional quarterfinals 12-11 to Mater Academy; Top players: Jillian Depaio (sr. P); Alexa Spellman (jr. 1B); Kaitlyn O’Hara (so. CF); Noteworthy: A lot will depend on pitchers DePaio and junior Briana Dimler.

CALVARY CHRISTIAN: Coach: Lee Gilreath (4th year overall, 3rd year at CC); Last year: 17-6, lost in 3A regional semifinals to eventual state champ Delray Beach American Heritage 21-0; Top players: Tina Deibel (so. C/3B); Mia Velez (8th grade, INF); Cameryn Chang (fr. P); Noteworthy: Seven starters, including Chang (14-2, 3.61 ERA), return to a team that moves up to Class 4A. There are no seniors on the team.

CHAMINADE: Coach: Glenn Ikalina (5th year overall, 2nd year here; Last year: 17-5; Top players: Danica McCabe (sr. P); Mika Sheerin (sr. INF); Jackie Yao (jr. OF); Noteworthy: McCabe (17-4, 1.76 ERA) also led team in hitting (.478). Yao led county with 42 steals, according to coach, who is excited about the addition of six freshmen and one sophomore.

COCUNUT CREEK: Coach: Josh Brannon (1st year); Last year: 6-14; Top players: Ashley Lawton (sr. P/C); Brittany Holder (sr. CF); Samantha O’Brien (jr. 1B); Noteworthy: Sophomore 2B Amber Kelley and the three aforementioned players are the returning starters.

COOPER CITY: Coach: Phil Schmalz (7th year overall, 6th year here); Last year: 13-12, lost 15-6 in 7A regional semifinals to eventual state champ Aquinas; Top players: Bethany Williams (sr. C); Sommer Grzybek (so. OF/1B); Felicia Ianniello (so. C); Noteworthy: Team moves up to 8A this year and its untested pitching will be the key. Position players are strong.

CORAL GLADES: Coach: Richard Waldorf (1st year); Last year: 2-17; Top players: Emily Osteen (so. P); Alex Taylor (fr. P/SS); Victoria Diaz (fr. C); Noteworthy: Freshman OF Alyssa Magobet is another young player new coach Waldorf will try to build around.

CORAL SPRINGS: Coach: Kristen Bust; Last year: 11-11; Top players: Alex Voss (jr. SS); Cierra Pollock (jr. 3B); Jenna Skrypek (jr. 1B/P); Noteworthy: The infield is solid, especially the left side, where Pollock hit .530, and Voss batted .513.

CORAL SPRINGS CHARTER: Coach: Mark Montimurro (23-7, 17th year overall, 2nd year here; Last year: 23-7, lost in 4A regional final, 9-0, to eventual state champs, Miami’s Gulliver Prep; Top players: Kayla Scaperratta (so. SS); Casey Huber (jr. OF); Paige Fairchild (jr. P); Noteworthy: Scaperatta getting Division I looks. She and Huber made first-team All-Broward. But four starters were lost from last season.

CYPRESS BAY: Coach: Lonny Shapiro (11th year); Last year: 21-6, lost in 8A state final; Top players: Sarah Maloney (sr. P); Lexi DiEmmanuele (jr. OF); Maddie Gott (sr. INF); Noteworthy: Six starters return, including three who made All-Broward first team. But the roster is thin on depth.

DEERFIELD BEACH: Coach: Jerry Guthrie: Last year: 6-15; Top players: Coral Galpine (sr. SS); Vika Chursina (sr. P/1B); Sarah Strothman (so. C); Tatyana Jackson (sr. OF); Noteworthy: Galpine and Chursina provide senior leadership.

DILLARD: Gianna Faustin (1st year); Last year: NA; Top players: Kayla Bejarano (jr. P/C); Nicoley Dorsett (so. P/1B); Brianna Burrell (so. 3B); Noteworthy: Watch for a trio of freshmen – CF Torri Bush, SS Dominique Honyghan and 1B Aliyah Harris.

DOUGLAS: Coach: Brian Staubly (4th year); Last year: 16-7, lost 4-2 to Western in 8A regional quarterfinals; Top players: Kayla Boyle (jr. CF); Madison Sack (jr. C); Katie Peterson (jr. 1B); Noteworthy: Eight starters back, including junior SS Jessica England and sophomore pitcher Sami Feller.

FORT LAUDERDALE: Coach: Kathleen Kennedy; Last year: 11-10; Top players: Yazmene Gonzalez (sr. SS); Sarah Sweetapple (sr. P); Brooke Sweetapple (sr. C); Noteworthy: Eight out of nine starters return. Five newcomers, including freshman 2B Carly Thornton, add to a healthy mix.

McARTHUR: Coach: Frank Girardi (6th year); Last year: 10-11; Top players: Kaycee Mansfield (jr. P/1B); Yaniset Rodriguez (sr. 3B); Kiaraliz Feliciano (jr. 2B/SS); Noteworthy: Mansfield and sophomore Janis Gomez will handle the pitching. Sophomore Alexis Talley returns at catcher.

MIRAMAR: Coach: John Lamb (6th year); Last year: 5-8; Top players: Shelby Press (sr. CF); Valerie Lamb (sr. P); Aubrenee Barlow (sr. 1B/P); Noteworthy: Five starters return, but the addition of three talented freshmen gives this team optimism.

MONARCH: Coach: Tom Popovics (26th year overall, 5th year here); Last year: 19-4, lost in 8A regional quarterfinals; Top players: Stefany Collins (jr. 3B); Madison Mihok (sr. SS); Ashley Rohloff (so. OF); Noteworthy: Mihok, a fourth-year starter, has hit over .450 every season. She and Collins combined for 13 homers and 110 RBI last season.

NORTHEAST: Coach: Lavon Smith (1st year): Last year: 11-12; lost 15-0 to Cooper City in 7A regional quarterfinals; Top players: Jamila Watson (sr. LF); Katie Hull (sr. SS/3B); Taylor Lane (so. SS); Noteworthy: Four starters return for a team strong on defense, although consistent pitching is a concern. Smith arrives from Kansas, where he was coaching NAIA football.

PEMBROKE PINES CHARTER: Coach: Tom Fadul (14th year); Last year: 23-4, lost in 6A state final, 6-2 to Lake City Columbia; Top players: Claire Blount (so. P); Courtney Dart (sr. SS); Jamie Gonzalez (sr. C); Noteworthy: The entire infield returns, but first-team All-State RF Bridget Blount is out for the season due to shoulder surgery.

PLANTATION: Coach: Michael Handler (3rd year); Last year: 1-15; Top players: Angelique Solano (sr. CF); Tiara Humprey (sr. C/OF); Anaila Paz (sr. OF/3B); Noteworthy: Handler considers the infield to be the team’s strength, but freshman pitcher Savannah Curran will be a key.

POMPANO BEACH: Coach: Sherilynn Wilder (3rd year); Last year: 16-8, lost 10-0 to American Heritage in 5A regional semifinals; Top players: Noelle McGuire (sr. SS); Erin Sundook (sr. C); Sabrina Akrouk (sr. 1B); Noteworthy: Nine players return, including a solid core of seniors.

PINE CREST: Coach: Mike Thompson (9th year overall, 6th year at PC); Last year: 9-9; Top players: Casey Cruzpino (sr. C); Samantha Restrepo (7th grade, SS); Taylor Estape (jr. P/INF); Noteworthy: Inexperienced pitching is a concern on a team with five freshmen and two middle-school players. Cruzpino has earned an appointment to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

SOUTH PLANTATION: Coach: Robyn Handler; Last year: 9-11; Top players: Jessica Trana (jr. P/1B); Katelynn Bresler (jr. C/OF); McKenna Delaware (jr. SS); Noteworthy: The team strength is offense. The pitching of Trana and sophomore Emma Maitland will be crucial.

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Coach: Bryan Baucom (20th year); Last year: 22-5,, won 7A state title 1-0 over Tampa Freedom; Top players: Gwen Svekis (sr. C); Meghan King (sr. P); Rachel Colins (sr. SS); Noteworthy: Six starters return, including King, who signed with Maryland, and Svekis, who signed with Oregon. Last season’s state title was the Raiders’ third and their first since they won two straight in 2002 and 2003.

TARAVELLA: Coach: Doug Huffman (5th year); Last year: 17-4, lost in 8A regional quarterfinals 11-0 to Cypress Bay; Top players: Marina Delfino (sr. SS); Nishana Singh (sr. CF); Shannon Lee (sr. RF); Noteworthy: Delfino returns from injury and team looks for a second pitcher behind junior Megan Markusfeld (16-4, 2.94).

WESTERN: Coach: Mike Marcus (3rd year); Last year: 17-8, lost 8-0 to eventual 8A state runner-up Cypress Bay; Top players: Sammy Vance (sr. SS); Allie Lawdan (jr. C); Sydney Bates (so. P); Noteworthy: Seven starters return on a deep team that includes three freshmen expected to make impacts.

UNIVERSITY: Coach: Brian Ortagus (2nd year); Last year: 14-7; Top players: Linette Flores (jr. P/INF); Chanel Hall (jr. C); Noteworthy: Five starters return, including Flores, who has a 4.5 GPA and made second-team All-State in Class 4A. It’s a young team overall with a sixth-grader and several eighth-graders.


Special to The Miami Herald

Don’t say the numbers “5” and “4” around the Cypress Bay softball team.

That was the final score in 2012, when the Lightning lost a regional final in extra innings to Jupiter. And that was also the score last year, when the Lightning lost to Coral Reef in the Class 8A state final.

The Cypress Bay softball program has never tasted the ultimate victory, losing both times it has made it to a state final, and has fallen by one run in its past three elimination defeats.

That’s a lot of disappointment.

But nothing was worse than last season, when the Lightning rallied with four runs in its last inning and had a runner on third when the final out — a strikeout — was recorded.

“As soon as the game ended, everyone looked at each other in disbelief,” said senior infielder Maddie Gott, a starter at second base last season. “Everyone was quiet. No one knew what to say.

“We had worked our butts off all season and to not come home with a gold medal was heartbreaking.”

Lonny Shapiro, in his 11th season as Cypress Bay’s coach, returns six starters from last season, including three who made first-team All-Broward: Gott, who will play in the Ivy League for Columbia next season; senior pitcher Sarah Maloney and junior outfielder Lexi DiEmmanuele, a Boston College recruit.

In addition, Olivia Gott, Maddie’s younger sister, returns as the team’s catcher and a second-team All-Broward player. And sophomore infielder Maggie Scott, who made third-team All-Broward, is also back.

Maloney, 8-3 with a 1.31 ERA last season, was the starting pitcher in both of those 5-4 elimination games. She was lifted after three innings in last season’s state final.

“I shouldn’t have played that game — I was tired,” said Maloney, who is not sure if she will play softball in college. “I made the wrong choice, and I was disappointed in myself.”

Maloney, who describes herself as a fierce competitor, has dealt with a variety of injuries. Last season, she had a sprained rotator cuff in her pitching shoulder.

And because of wear and tear from pitching for her club team over the summer, she enters this season with a sprained right hamstring and a right knee that will require surgery.

“I’ve been told I have a high pain tolerance,” said Maloney, who plans to have the surgery in July after her high school and club seasons are over. “The [leg injuries] affect my drag leg, which is the one I push off of and where most of my power comes from.

“But I don’t like to take breaks, especially when my team needs me.”

Cypress Bay really needs her. Not only is she talented, but also the Lightning has a small roster with only 13 players, which is unusual for such a successful program at such a large school of more than 4,700 students.

Last year, Cypress Bay had 16 players. But after graduation losses, there are no newcomers on this year’s team, and there is no junior varsity.

It’s just those 13 players who have to make that number lucky and avoid injuries and illnesses.

“We are stretched thin,” Gott said. “We don’t have a backup at half of our positions. That’s one of our biggest worries at practice — we can’t risk anyone gettinh hurt, and we can’t have someone ineligible because of a low GPA.

“We all have to eat right, stay healthy and clean. But it will work out.”

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