SOMERS, N.Y.--It’s the middle of the summer, but that’s not stopping Somers’ head varsity softball coach Dave Scagnelli and board members of its youth program from engaging in some extracurricular activity to strengthen it.
Hundreds of softball players from age 6 and up gathered at the Somers Pub on Tuesday, July 25, which was donating half of the night’s proceeds to Tuskers softball.
“We want to try and accomplish a lot of lofty goals,” Scagnelli said. “The best way to do that is to get our softball community involved. There’s a lot of people who have been adamant about moving our program forward and who have been tremendously helpful” in doing so.
It was a social affair with a 50/50 raffle and a challenge involving softballs and cups. It drew a hungry group of people came a large turnout and some tall orders for food, T-shirts, magnets and water bottles.
Just wrapping up his first season as head coach, Scagnelli spoke to the crowd about his plan to create more efficient teams from the kindergarten level through high school.
One part of the plan is to form a softball council, which will meet monthly.
In addition, a mentoring program has begun, in which incoming freshmen and eighth-graders will be paired with varsity players.
The older kids will take them under their wings, assisting them in both softball and with their assimilation into high school.
Former players Julia Sciacca (Class of 2017), Katie Gall and Kristin Elliott (both Class of 2015) spoke about how special being a part of the softball team was, and how the field should be improved. The group is pushing to have a field for softball at either at Primrose or the high school; many players feel that Somers has been lacking a real home-field advantage for seasons.
Scagnelli’s long-term goal is to improve the softball facilities at Van Tassell Park and others in town. Many fields don’t have scoreboards or regulation fences like other school districts.
The group also talked about how to develop new tournament teams for multiple age groups (including high school) that can play year-round with access to winter training sessions.
“Coach Scagnelli is making such a huge change already,” varsity captain catcher Gabby Mazzotta said. “He is making softball come alive again. I’m so happy. We have some really good girls coming up. I really think we are going to go far next year.”
This fall, the Tuskers will field tournament teams for its 14-and-under and 12-and-under squads for the first time. Somers will also host its own tournament for both age groups this year. And 10-and-under and 16-and-under programs are scheduled to start next season.
“We want to attract softball into the community,” Scagnelli said. “And we want our girls who want to play to have the opportunity against high-level competition. By playing in these tournaments, we can raise money for our community.”
Every dollar raised is going to Somers’ Booster Club and the fund will be there for any youth or high school needs that involve softball.
The fund also is enabling the Tuskers’ varsity team to take a pre-season trip in the spring to Disney World in Orlando, Fla. The girls will stay together for five days and play eight practice games against teams from all over the country at the Wild World of Sports.
“It’s a great way to build chemistry for the team,” Scagnelli said. “So when we come back, we’ll have an idea of where people should be playing and how close we are as a team.”
Making the Tuskers’ games potentially more riveting in 2018 will be their new public address announcer, Mike Carlisto. Music is supposed to be played, too, throughout games next season.
Members of the softball board who have been monumental in the revamping of the program are Rick Elliott, Mark Mazzotta, Kristin Elliott, Carlisto, Katie DiChiaro, Kurt Moscarello and Joe Sciacca.
“All these variations of people in this community have a really nice connection from the ground up,” Mazzotta said. “Dave (Scagnelli) is truly dedicated to fortifying this unbelievable foundation. He is definitely injecting new life into the program and is sacrificing a lot of personal time to find the right people.”
Elliott organized the pub fundraiser and many more are to come such as a golf outing scheduled by Mazzotta for September at Saxon Woods in Scarsdale.
“The real goal is to get the girls a good field to play on,” Rick Elliott said. “That’s been one of my mission statements with this town the last six or seven years.”
In Scagnelli’s first year at the helm, Somers forged six total wins and beat host Beacon in a long-fought-out bracket playoff game.
“In Year One, we had some improvements and we are just trying to lay a foundation for what we want the program to be,” Scagnelli said. “We want girls who are serious and passionate about softball, who want to play for each other.”