Spring in Their Steps

Enthusiastic and ready to play
Allura Leggard, who recently competed in the state indoor meet’s 55-meter race, is expected to be one of Yani Cuesta’s versatile competitors this spring. Jack Graves

“Who needs Florida,” this writer said as he talked with East Hampton High’s new softball coach, Kathy Amicucci, on Friday. It was unusually warm day for March, known more — at least on the open plain where the high school lies — for its ripping, bone-chilling winds.

Her players, a lot of them juniors and a lot of them ninth graders, were enthusiastic and seemed ready to play, she said in reply to a question. 

The numbers were good, she added. After tryouts, she and Molly Nolan, the jayvee coach, apportioned the 28 hopefuls evenly. A varsity scrimmage with Southampton is to take place here this afternoon. 

“I hope we’ll be competitive,” said Amicucci, whom this writer knows to be competitive, given that she’s played on a number of championship women’s slow-pitch softball teams here and once pinch-ran in an Artists-Writers softball game while pregnant. 

Claude Beudert, who was overseeing the varsity and junior varsity boys tennis teams’ practice that day in the absence of Katie Helfand, the varsity coach, said tennis, too, would be “competitive,” an assessment that may prove to be a bit modest, for all but a few are back from last year’s league champions, which lost only one match, to Ward Melville in the county team tournament’s quarterfinal round.

The roster includes the two MacGurns, Julian and Ravi, and Jack Louchheim, all formidable singles players, Jaeden Glasstein, a talented transfer from Southold, Jack Murphy, Hunter Medler, Johnny De Groot of Bridgehampton, whose father, Doug, owns the Buckskill Tennis Club here, James Fairchild, Ben Karlin, and Jordan Foster.

Moreover, the MacGurns, Louchheim, Glasstein, and Murphy work out regularly at Ross’s bubble with that school’s players and Ross Academy students. 

Besides being a tenacious player, Jack Louchheim, who’s only an eighth grader, is tenacious when it comes to fund-raising too: He recently amassed the requisite $41,000 in donations from businesses, family members, and other individuals so that a tennis court can be built this spring at the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreation Center on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike. 

Procorm of Westhampton Beach will do the work in early April, he said, adding that he had been impelled to undertake the project when he learned the center would no longer bus its younger kids to play at Sag Harbor’s Mashashi­muet Park.

He, Ravi MacGurn, and friends of his from the Ross School and Florida — six or seven in all — will give free lessons on the center’s court this summer.

The tennis team has been moved up a league, along with Westhampton Beach, Shoreham-Wading River, Eastport-South Manor, Ross, Mattituck, and William Floyd. Its first outing will be Monday at Sachem East, a nonleague opponent.

Both track teams were out in full force Friday, as was girls lacrosse — about 125 athletes in all.

Yani Cuesta, the girls track coach, has just about everyone out this spring who competed indoors, with just a few defections, to girls lacrosse and softball. Bill Herzog, the veteran boys coach, has a big roster too. 

With the season fast approaching, both coaches are trying to get their younger competitors and newcomers up to speed. 

“I wish we didn’t start having meets until after the Easter break,” said Herzog, “but Section XI does the scheduling.”

As of Sunday, Herzog said he thought he had just about all the events covered, though the hurdles and triple jump remained question marks. 

Cuesta, whose squad numbers 51 at the moment, seems to be in an even stronger position what with 13 seniors — Cecilia Blowe, Devon Brown, Gabby McKay, Maddie Gregg, Arlena Burns, Taliya Hayes, Hannah Jungck, Christine Malecki, Nina Piacentine, Katie Mendoza, Rose O’Donoghue, Tyra Stewart, and Veronica Whitney.

The winter team set eight school records, “and these girls would like to do the same this spring,” said Cuesta. “I think we have a legitimate chance to do really, really well. It will come down to the versatility of our seniors and to the young ones pushing themselves to learn quickly.”

The girls and boys debut Wednesday with Shoreham-Wading River — the boys away and the girls at home. 

Jack Louchheim, who will play number-two singles again for East Hampton High’s boys tennis team, has raised $41,000 to build a court at the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreation Center. Jack Graves
Maddie Schenck, the varsity softball team’s sophomore catcher, recently broke eight minutes in a 2,000-meter ergometer competition in Boston, which qualified her, she said, to attend the national rowing team’s camp.