St. Ann's baseball and softball squads benefit from strong blood ties
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
After losing 10 seniors from last year's squad, which suffered a heartbreaking one-run, extra-inning loss to the Berkeley Carroll School in the Athletic Conference of Independent Schools title game at Coney Island's MCU Park, the Steamers knew it would be a tough road back to the postseason.
But thanks to a pair of cousins, both of whom are vital members of this season's unit, St. Ann's is once again in contention for a coveted playoff spot this spring.
Sam Premutico, the younger brother of graduated all-conference catcher Nico Premutico, and Lucas Mockler both played important roles in the Steamers' run to the NYSAISS playoffs the previous two years.
But now, the blood-tied dynamic duo is taking the lead in driving St. Ann's toward an 11th straight postseason berth.
Sam, who has been an everyday player and one of the team's top hitters since his freshman campaign, is currently Zerneck's No. 3 hitter in the lineup as well as a starter in the rotation. Mockler has emerged as the Steamers' staff ace and cleanup man.
The cousins recently pitched St. Ann's to back-to-back wins over neighborhood rival Packer Collegiate, helping the Steamers to a 4-6 overall record, including a 3-5 slate in the ACIS.
Mockler delivered a clutch game-winning squeeze bunt in the team's first league win of the campaign over the Pelicans, picking up the win on the mound as well. Premutico pitched St. Ann's past Packer, 8-3, with Mockler driving in a pair of runs before he re-took the hill for last week's 6-1 triumph over Dwight, tossing a complete-game one-hitter to up the Steamers' season-high winning streak to three.
"Thanks in part to their play, what once looked like a trying season now has a chance to be another playoff run," Zerneck said of Premutico and Mockler, who have received plenty of help from budding sophomores Connor Haseley, Luke Markus and Moses Rubin, along with the rest of the Steamers' young and eager roster.
Currently standing third overall in their ultra-competitive league, the Steamers are in position to grab one of the four ACIS playoff spots as we enter May.
Regardless of the ultimate outcome of St. Ann's playoff drive, however, Zerneck believes the Steamers have a bright future and plenty to take pride in for battling back from a rough start.
Especially with Permutico and Mockler due to return next year.
"These boys are well aware of our streak and they're doing everything they can to make sure it continues on their watch," he said. "I think what makes it even more special is how close the two of them are. It's great to see them competing so well together. Honestly, I'm proud of them - and the entire team - whether we make the playoffs this year or not."
The family ties certainly don't end on the varsity baseball team at St. Ann's.
Nina Premutico, Sam's younger sister and the lone underclassman starting on the Steamers' varsity infield, is already proving herself to be one of the most productive new players on the ACIS circuit.
The freshman third baseman, also an experienced squash player, entered the week batting an almost unfathomable .769 (20-for-26) at the plate with five doubles, a triple and three homers, including a grand slam.
Though she began the season as the Steamers' cleanup batter, St. Ann's coach Theresa Schirrippa opted to move her first-year star into the No. 3 hole in the hopes that she would get more at-bats and opportunities with runners on base.
Thus far, Nina has played every inning of every game, helping the Steamers to a 4-5 overall mark and a shot at either the No. 2 or 3 seed in the upcoming playoffs.
Blessed with a strong throwing arm, Nina has become quite the vacuum cleaner at the hot corner, gobbling up grounders and unleashing quality throws to first base.
"She has such a strong arm, especially for such a young girl," Schirrippa gushed. "I'm confident that a ball hit to Nima will result in an out."
"It was clear from day one of tryouts that Nina was going to be a star on this team," she added. "What I didn't know at the time was what a pleasure she would be to coach. Nina is kind, humble, smart, and very coachable. She has earned tremendous respect as a person and a player from myself as well as her teammates, and I look forward to her continued success throughout the next three seasons."
Despite losing some key seniors of their own from last year, the Berkeley Carroll Lions are still very much on pace to defend their ACIS crown and challenge for the state title.
Though they suffered their first loss of the campaign after their second straight 11-0 start with Tuesday's 7-3 setback to Telecommunications of the Public School Athletic League, coach Walter Paller's unit scored some impressive wins over the weekend.
Amherst-bound senior star Anthony Spina struck out six over five solid innings and picked up a pair of hits and two walks at the plate during Saturday's 12-2 rout of Long Island Lutheran.
That performance followed the latest gem from fourth-year pitching ace Ian Miller, who scattered five hits in a complete-game 3-0 shutout of Fieldston earlier Saturday.
Miller, the reigning ACIS Tournament MVP, struck out nine, threw 24 first-pitch strikes and got the offense support he needed from teammate Chris Harper, who drove in all three BCS runs.
Over at Brooklyn Friends, the Blue Pride, spearheaded by senior ace Misha Holzman, evened its record and won its third straight with last week's 7-2 triumph over Martin Luther.
Holzman, last year's Private School Athletic Association Most Valuable Player, struck out 13 in a complete-game effort, with what coach Jake Pittari called his ace's "best performance of the season."
At 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the PSAA, the Pride is still hopeful of making a return to the PSAA playoffs and another trip to the league's title game.