BY ALBERT ROMAN
Ozone Park’s High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture’s varsity softball team is the definition of a flourishing sports program in Queens.
Since being established in 2006, the team has won two city championships. The first title captured in the school’s history was during the 2008-2009 season with a team that included no seniors, due to the school’s only being three years old at the time.
Despite this, the team went 16-0 and ran to the title. The second title was nabbed during the 2012-2013 season.
Since 2008, head coach Marco Migliaccio and the Red Hawks have lost a total of 11 league games. Coach Migliaccio— who also coached varsity basketball, cross-country, indoor track, tennis and volleyball— is the driving force behind the team’s success. He believes that the shaping of a certain mentality has helped the program evolve and transition into winning.
“The softball team here now believes in the process and, with each incoming class, the expectation is to learn play hard and don’t leave anything on the field. They no longer consider themselves a team— we are a program,” Migliaccio said.
This season, the program continues its successful run. The Red Hawks are 6-0 to begin the season. The team’s offense is the catalyst behind the hot start. The team is averaging 16 runs per game, while allowing an average of only two runs. The impressive start includes a 30-2 victory over Bayside High School.
Seven of the top 10 players leading the league in batting average wear Red Hawks uniforms. League leader and senior Lizul Portugal, who received a full scholarship to NYIT, is having a striking offensive season.
Portugal leads the league in batting average (0.789), homeruns (5), runs batted in (27), runs (16), slugging percentage (1.842) and on-base percentage (0.846).
She is the record holder of every offensive category in the school’s history and has been the team’s captain for three years. Her importance to the team goes beyond the field.
“Lizul is the heart and soul of the team— not only is she a great ball player, but her best attribute is that she makes everyone around her better,” Migliaccio said. “She leads by example. She’s a general who leads when we need her to.”
Sophomore Claudia Migliaccio is also posting impressive numbers on the mound. She leads the league in wins (6) strikeouts (48) and earned run average (1.06).
After a strong 14-1 freshman campaign, Migliaccio continues to develop her game.
“With Claudia, her growth has been that she is thinking more, working on moving the ball and working on the mental aspects of the game,” Migliaccio said.
Last season, the Red Hawks reached the Public School Division A Championship for the third time in four years. Behind a core that featured eight freshmen— including Kassandra Granobles, Yasmeen Navarro and Migliaccio— the team fell to the Tottenville Pirates, 13-5. The title was the Pirates’ 10th in the past 13 years.
A competitive rivalry is brewing between the two schools. When the Red Hawks won a second championship in 2013, it was a 3-2 victory over the Pirates. The teams met again in the championship game the following season, where the Pirates got their revenge by winning 13-4.
“We love the rivalry because I teach them about the history of baseball, we treat it like the Yankees versus the Boston Red Sox. Tottenvile is always known as having a winning tradition, so to be put in the same category is a great accomplishment,” Migliaccio said.
The Red Hawks look to continue their dominance and stride for another championship, when the team heads to Bergen Beach in Brooklyn to participate in a tournament on April 29.