News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.
By Tony Pinciaro
Coming into the 2022 Section 1 High School Varsity Softball season, the powers in Class AA were established with 2021 sectional champion MAHOPAC on top. White Plains, North Rockland, Arlington and John Jay-East Fishkill were also among the Class AA elite. This season, one team has been under the radar, but has established itself as a Section 1 Class AA contender – the CARMEL Rams.
Carmel improved to 10-1 last week with victories over Arlington and John Jay-East Fishkill. The Rams lone loss came this week to White Plains, a major AA player.
Despite the loss, Carmel heads into the final week of the regular season with an excellent opportunity to secure a top-four seed in the Section 1 Class AA Softball Championship. That would ensure the Rams of at least two home games, following a first-round win.
Carmel and Coach Brandon Johanson established the foundation last year, finishing 9-10 and earning a berth in sectionals. Two seniors graduated so the Rams returned a deep, experienced nucleus. Even with the returning experience, Carmel has surprised itself.
“We didn’t come into this season thinking we would do this well and I think that’s why we have done so well,” said senior and captain Alyssa Zangrilli. “We play better as a team when we have fun without thinking about the outcome.”
Fellow captain Mandy Fernandez and Zangrilli have been Carmel’s leaders. Johanson said the duo, along with Hailey Basso, Sam Stallone and Emma Alicea, were instrumental in the victories over John Jay and Arlington.
Fernandez (.714 BA), Alicea (.600 BA), Basso (.540 BA) and Stallone (.525 BA) have ripped the cover off the softball while Zangrilli was dominant in the circle, allowing just two earned runs.
Zangrilli attributes the new-look Rams to one major factor: Unity.
“We are doing so much better than last year because we finally learned how to play together as a team,” said Zangrilli, who will attend The College of Staten Island in September and continue playing softball. “We have always had talent, but we didn’t know how to come together.”
Johanson agrees with his captain.
“The girls have really come together as a team and have been working so hard day in and day that it is truly a wonderful thing to be a part of,” Johanson said. “The hard work and development of the girls and the entire softball program over the last six years is beginning to pay off and is starting to translate into success on the field.
“The team is so close and dedicated that they are committed to one goal, and no one cares who gets the credit as long as the job is done. That is why we have had so many different people step up in big spots for us all year which has helped the success that we have had thus far.”
Carmel came out the gate fast with a few wins, which instantly gave the Rams a confidence infusion. An early 9-3 win over Arlington made Carmel realize something about itself.
“Our first game against Arlington was the game that confirmed that we were going to be a hard team to beat this year,” Zangrilli said. “The score was not a close game, in the slightest. Arlington is always a team we have struggled with as a program. We haven’t beaten them in a very long time.”
Carmel is using the White Plains’ game as a learning experience.
“White Plains was a tough loss but one we needed to keep ourselves grounded,” Zangrilli said. “We’re going to move on from this loss and get back to where we left off.
Fernandez was 3 for 4 with two RBI against John Jay and Basso added two hits and also drove in two runs. Stallone led the way as Carmel swept the season set from Arlington. She had two hits and collected two RBI.
Carmel will host R.C. Ketcham (Tuesday) and John Jay-East Fishkill (Thursday) before closing the regular season at Clarkstown South (Friday).
YORKTOWN continued to hold a firm grip on the No.1 seed for the Section 1 Class A Softball Championships with victories over Brewster (10–0) and Somers (9-5).The Cornhuskers are 14-1and have a busy final week of the season.
Yorktown played Mahopac (Monday), will host Horace Greeley (Wednesday), travels to John Jay-Cross River (Friday) and hosts Harrison (Saturday).
Maya Servedio allowed one hit and struck out 17 against Brewster. Slugger Olivia Salveggi went 4 for 4, scored four runs and drove in six runs. Kelly Jennings went 3 for 4 with a RBI.
Salveggi had three hits and three RBI against Somers. Bella Gomes, Vittoria Milizia and Servedio had two hits apiece and Mandy Albano drove in three runs. Servedio surrendered one hit and collected 11 strikeouts in 6.1 innings.
MAHOPAC registered wins over Somers and Horace Greeley, improving to 11-3 this season. Indian sophomore P Ava Lichtenberger tossed a one-hitter and rang up 14 strikeouts against Greeley. She also ripped a three-run homer and finished with five RBI. Mia Lanter mashed a three-run homer, Ally Wanner hit her second home run in as many games and Olivia Whitemarsh had four RBI.
Lanter led the hit parade on Senior Night against Somers, doubling twice among her three hits and driving in two runs. Wanner hit a tape-measure home run – 215 feet – and Gianna Lafaro and Lichtenberger each drove in two runs.
HEN HUD went 2-2 for the week and is now 10-5 this season. The Sailors defeated Somers (9-4), on Senior Night, and blanked Lakeland, but dropped a 3-2 verdict to Our Lady of Lourdes and a 4-0 decision to John Jay-East Fishkill. Sailor P Alana Espinoza struck out seven and held reigning Class A champ LAKELAND to one hit. She also had two hits and scored three runs. Lexi Schaffer and Johannsen each had two hits. Taeghan Dapson had a team-high four RBI and Johannsen had three RBI.
Espinoza pitched well against Lourdes, allowing just four hits and striking out eight. Paige Johannsen went 2 for 3, including a triple, and scored a run.
PUTNAM VALLEY broke through and entered the win column after sweeping a doubleheader, 11-3 and 6-3, from North Salem on Senior Night. In the opener, Mary Mikalsen had two triples among her four hits and drove in a career-best eight runs.
Seniors Ava Derella and Maddy DeVito scored four runs and two runs, respectively, and DeVito was the winning pitcher. Katelyn Flanagan had one hit, drove in two runs and scored twice. Seniors Taylor Peduto, LeAnn Keeler, and Victoria Spitzer each had a hit and RBI in the second game.
DeVito also won the second game. She helped herself with three hits and two runs scored. Flanagan, the centerfielder, threw out at baserunner at second and at the plate.
For the second time this season, Putnam Valley Coach Rena Finsmith and her team lost to Finsmith’s alma mater – Pleasantville and coach Gina Perino. Mikalsen had two hits and eighth-grader Maggie Caputo singled and scored two runs. Maggie Sampson, Spitzer and Flanagan had a RBI apiece.
Putnam Valley closes out the regular season with four games. The Tigers played a doubleheader against Walter Panas (Monday), close out league play Croton (Tuesday) and conclude the regular season against Scarsdale (Saturday), both home.
SOMERS had a good case to question the schedule-makers after the Tuskers played Mahopac, Hen Hud and Yorktown in a three-day span. Even though Somers lost all three, the Tuskers were in each game.
Emily Julius doubled and had two RBI in the 9-4 loss to Mahopac. Katherine Papa singled, drove in a run and scored a run and Katie Cole tripled and scored. Avery Kossow and Papa had two RBI apiece in a 9-4 setback to Hen Hud. Somers raced out to a 5-1 lead after one inning against Yorktown before the Cornhuskers rallied to a 9-5 win.
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