Hen Hud Yearns for 2nd Title Chance; Carmel Seeks to Challenge

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By Tony Pinciaro
Hen Hud CF Paige Johannsen

The loss still burns in the minds of the returning veterans on the 2023 HEN HUD varsity softball team.

Hen Hud was three outs from winning the 2022 Section 1 Class A championship only to have Tappan Zee even the score in the seventh and win it, 3-2, in nine innings.

Despite the difficult loss, senior Paige Johannsen said the team will be stronger for it.

“We now know what it feels like to lose in such a tight game in the final,” said Johannsen, who will attend the University of Rhode Island in September. “Mentally, we all know what we have to do as a team and individually to bring us back to the final game and this year, win.”

Johannsen headlines a veteran, returning nucleus for third-year coach Will Mauro. She is joined by classmates Lexi Schaffer (shortstop), Emma Morley (catcher) and Val Stratton (pitcher). Sophomore Ja’Nae Walker (third base) and freshmen Emma Johannsen (left field) and Emma Barbelet (pitcher) complete the core.

Even though the Sailors will miss the graduated Taeghan Dapson and pitcher Alana Espinoza, Johannsen is confident the team will adapt.

“Alana and Taeghan greatly impacted us but we can definitely bounce back,” Johannsen said. “Alana was such an asset in the circle last year, really driving us to the finals. Taeghan, in center, could practically get to any ball and was a great hitter. Even with these losses, we have girls this year that will step in and take their places.”

Yorktown Vittoria Milizia and Adrianna Albano

Johannsen is the new center fielder and the tandem of Stratton and Barbelet move into the circle. Having two windmillers the team can rely on is reassuring.

And through Hen Hud’s first three games, all wins, Stratton and Barbelet have met the challenge.

“It is very good that we have two solid pitchers we can rely on at any moment,” Johannsen said. “Val and Emma have both stepped up this season and have both already pitched great games to start off the season. Last year, we really only had Alana to bring us through the season. This year, with two pitchers, it just may be what we need to make it back and take home the championship this year.”

Stratton and Barbelet will benefit from having an experienced catcher in Emma Morley. As a result, this has made both feel comfortable in the circle.

“It is very important having Emma behind the plate,” . She gives the pitchers an experienced player to always have. Last year Emma played a big role in our run so she can definitely help out the new pitchers with anything they need.”

Along with Stratton and Barbelet’s early-season showing, Johannsen has been very pleased with the varsity newcomers, especially those who are in junior high school – eighth-grader Angelina Carbone and seventh-grader Giovanna Alphonse. This all ties in to the added motivation Hen Hud came into the season with.

Pleasantville’s Fiona Lefkowitz

“This year we have something big to fuel us to get better,” Johannsen said. “In past years we haven’t made it that far so coming back into the season we just wanted to do better. This year, we are really focusing on the little things that will make us better as a team.

“This year, a lot of the younger girls have impressed me. I know that being in middle school on a varsity is very hard, but it doesn’t seem to phase the middle-schoolers this year. The other varsity newcomers have also stepped in and already played a very important role in our first three games of the season.”

Mauro has prepared his team for another sectional run with a difficult schedule, which will challenge the Sailors when they take the field. Johannsen and her teammates know this will have them ready.

“Having a tough regular-season schedule definitely helps for when sectionals come around,” Johannsen said. “If we play tough teams all season then sectional games won’t be any different. We need to treat all the teams and games the same throughout the season and into sectionals and anyone can come out on top.

Mahopac junior P Ava Lichtenberger

“In late May, we definitely want to be the ones with the title this year. All of the returners know the feeling of losing and we don’t want to feel that again. We will have to constantly work hard all season. All of the little things will come together and everyone has to do their part. We all have to be dedicated and put in hard work if we want this. Although we have lost crucial players from last year, I believe this year’s team is fully capable of going back to the final game and taking the championship home.”


Coach: Lisa Delzio (16th year)

2022 record: 10-11

Top returnees: Alexandra White, Sr., 2B; Kylie Dudones, Sr., 1B; Natalie Hayes, Jr., P.

Key newcomers: Emma Mariella, Fr., SS; Ava Medina, Fr., CF.

Strengths: Great leadership by the team captains; team chemistry; power.

Coach’s outlook: We’re looking to get to Brewster’s traditional winning ways once again. Our lineup is stronger than it’s been in years and our defense and pitching has also greatly improved.


Coach: Lauren Pesce (fifth year)

2022 record: 8-10

2022 Section 1 result: Lost to Pawling in the quarterfinal round

League favorite: Rye Neck

Section favorite, Class B: Rye Neck

Top returnees: Barbie Vallejo, Sr., C (2022: .516 average); Jayna Borrelli, UTIL (2022: .574 average, 32 stolen bases); Jillian Mauro, CF, (2022: 19 RBI); Michela Deem, 3B (2022: 21 RBI).

Strengths: Positive attitudes, veteran players are great role models for the younger girls.

Coaches outlook: We are looking forward to the season ahead and watching these girls grow into great softball players. Their eagerness to learn and wanting to face challenges every day, radiates their passion for the game. We are very excited to see them grow into great athletes and responsible adults.


Coach: John McNamara (fifth year)

2022 record: 10-12

2022 Section 1 result: After an out-bracket win over No. 13 Ardsley, lost to Pearl River in the first round.

League favorite: Ardsley

Section favorite, Class B: Rye Neck, Ardsley, Valhalla, Albertus

Top returnees: Alexis Conigliaro, Sr., P/IF (2022: All-League, All-Section honorable mention, 4-year starting pitcher); Amy Gagliardi, Sr., IF; Maeve Padley, So., OF/UTIL (2022: All-League).

Key newcomers: Ameila Deeks, So., IF; Sophia Deeks, Fr., C; Elizabella Dec, Fr., IF.

Strengths: Pitching.

Question marks: Experience, with the graduation of seven starters from last year’s team. Byram Hills has two eighth-graders and six freshmen comprise the majority of the team roster.

Coach’s outlook: We hope to gain experience early in the season and gain confidence as we move through the schedule. If we can play solid defense and make the fundamental plays to help support our pitching we hope to be a competitive opponent in our games.


Coach: Brandon Johanson (fifth year)

2022 record: 13-3

2022 Section 1 result: Lost to Section 1 Class AA champion North Rockland in a semifinal

League favorite: Carmel, John Jay-East Fishkill, R.C. Ketcham, Mahopac and Arlington.

Section favorite, Class AA: I think it’s wide open, but you can’t count out reigning Section 1 Champ North Rockland, and White Plains.

Top returnees: Mandy Fernandez, Sr., SS (2022: .658 average, 30 RBI, 22 2B, 25 stolen bases, two-time All-League and All-Section, 2022 League I-C player of the year); Sam Stallone, Sr., 3B (2022: All-League, All-Section; .530 average, 17 2Bs, 15 stolen bases); Kira Wright, Sr., SS/2B/OF (2022: .500 average); Sadie Zion, Sr., 1B/OF (2022: .515 average); Paige Ciallela, Sr., P/OF; Morgan Mallegol, Sr., C/2B; Maeve McGlynn, Sr., OF.

Key Newcomers: Riley Youngmen, Jr., 3B/P; Lindsay Sikora, Jr., 1B/OF; Deidre Curley, Jr., 2B/SS/P; Meagan Giordano, Jr., 2B/OF; Grace Fischer, Jr., OF/IF/C; Erin Purr, Jr., UTIL; Lila Perez, Jr., OF; Mikayla Pappas, Jr., OF; Madison Hurley, Fr., OF/IF/P; Kylie Murphy, Fr., C/OF.

Strengths: Team chemistry; veteran returning core.

Coach’s outlook: We are excited the season is here. We have been working hard since the fall and are ready to play. We don’t care who we play, we just want to play and compete every day. Our league is the toughest in Section 1! There are no easy games and everyone has talent so we are excited to compete and get better each game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see all the teams from our league in sectionals and make some noise while we are at it.

Noteworthy: Fernandez will be attending Albany and playing softball, Stallone is going to Mount Saint Mary and will play softball and Wright is heading to Oswego and will also play softball.


Coach: Toni Ann Licata (second year)

2022 record: 7-12

Top returnees: Hannah Getman, Sr., CF (3-year varsity starter; 2022: 26 hits, .394 average); Jordynn Killion, Sr., 3B/SS (5-year varsity starter; 2022: 22 hits, 18 RBI, .379 average).

Key newcomers: Sofia Rodriguez, 8th-grader, P; Valentina DeLuca, Fr., C/IF; Sienna Greco, Fr., SS/2nd; Sadie Rothfleisch, Fr./P.

Strengths: Young talent, infield defense, depth.

Coach’s outlook: In my second year I am more confident and extremely excited for our newcomers. We have a lot of young talent which is very exciting for the program. My returning players have welcomed them with open arms and they all mesh together very well.

Noteworthy: Licata played four years for former Fox Lane varsity softball coach Anthony Rodrigues. … Fox Lane opened the season with a 12-0 win over John Jay-Cross River behind Rodriguez. Gabriella Naar collected four hits.


Coach: Will Mauro (third year)

2022 record: 16-7

2022 Section 1 result: Lost 3-2, 9 innings, to Tappan Zee in the Class A championship game

League favorite: Hen Hud

Section favorite, Class A: Tappan Zee, Harrison, Ursuline

Top returnees: Ja’Nae Walker, Jr., 3B (2022: All-Section, All-League, League MVP, 7th-team All-State); Paige Johannsen, Sr., CF (All-Section Honorable Mention, All-League); Lexi Schaffer, Sr., SS (2022: All-League); Emma Morley, Sr., C; Emma Johannsen, Fr., LF; Val Stratton, Sr., P; Emma Barbelet, Fr., P;

Key newcomer: Angelina Carbone, 8th-grader; Kiely Morley, So., 2B; Giovanna Alphonse, 7th-grade, OF/P.

Strengths: Putting the ball in play & power; lineup depth.
Question marks: Our new pitchers will need to consistently throw strikes and keep us in games.

Coach’s outlook: We should be competitive. Scoring runs should not be our problem, along with having a sound defensive team. If our pitchers can keep us in the game, we have as good a chance as anyone to win.


Coach: Steve Fallo (31st year)

2022 record: 6-14

2022 Section 1 result: Did not qualify

Section 1 favorites, Class A: Tappan Zee and Hen Hud

Top returnees: Ryleigh Melendez, Sr., CF (3-year starter, 2022: All-Section honorable mention); Amanda Cohen, Jr., SS; Nikole Langan, Sr., OF/1B (3-year starter); Madi Panos, So., 2B; Nicole Mauntone, Fr., P; Taryne Bruno, Fr., OF; Jenna Yazzetti, Fr., C.

Key newcomers: Liliana Aquirre, 7th-grader, 3B/SS; Arianna DeEsso, 7th-grader, 1B/OF.

Coach’s outlook: My expectations are that they can compete, keep improving game-to-game and be ready for the sectional tournament. They are dedicated, enjoy playing and want to be successful. We have a very young team and it will be up to our veteran players to lead the way. Ryleigh Melendez and Amanda Cohen will be our captains. They both have a lot of experience and will have to help our younger players improve throughout the season.

Noteworthy: Former Lakeland player Claire Fon is Adelphi’s No. 1 pitcher. Fon was a 2022 second-team All-American. She set school records with 24 wins and had a 1.12 earned run average. … Fallo has registered more than 300 wins in his career.


Coach: Cristina Giansante (eighth year)

2022 record: 14-6

2022 Section 1 result: Lost to sectional champ Tappan Zee in a quarterfinal

Section favorite, Class A: Tappan Zee

Top returnees: Ava Lichtenberger, Jr., P (2022: All-Section, 1.84 ERA, 193 strikeouts, opponents’ batting average: 163), Gianna Lafaro, Jr., C (2022: All-Section honorable mention, .400 batting average, 28 hits, 31 RBI); Ally Wanner, Sr. (2022: All-League, 18 RBI), Cam Wilson, Fr. (2022: All-League, 24 runs).

Key newcomers: Bella Genovese, 8th-grader.

Strengths: Young talent; great team chemistry.

Coach’s outlook: We are looking to build off the seven returnees for a hopeful, long run into sectionals. We have the same goals and expectations every season: Hard work and commitment. I think we have a great chance of winning the section this year. I say it every year, but the expectations never change. That’s the ethic and foundation we build here in this program. High expectations every year. These girls have been training with a personal trainer weekly for months, they have been doing lessons and group training. They want it.

Noteworthy: Ava Lichtenberger will surpass 200 varsity strikeouts in Mahopac’s season-opener. … Former all-state pitcher Shannon Becker is Notre Dame’s No. 2 pitcher.


Coach: Jen Rosenthal (sixth year)

2022 record: 6-13

League favorite: White Plains

Section favorite, Class AA: Carmel

Top returnees: Devynn Hernandez, Sr., OF (2022: .402 average, 23 RBI); Micaela Santacruz, Sr., C (2022: .398 average, 16 RBI); Mia Vasiliki Wilkins, So., P/IF (2022: .573 average, 3 HR, 27 RBI, All-League); Leaila Alexander, So., SS (2022: .667 average, 5 HR, 36 RBI, All-League).

Key newcomers: Kaylee Howie, Fr., P/IF/OF.

Strengths: Speed.

Coach’s outlook on the season: We have a positive outlook for this season. The girls look great. We have athletic players with positive attitudes. They are fielding cleanly, we have speed on the bases and our hitting is strong.


Coach: Mike Dillon (second year)

2022 record: 8-12

2022 Section 1 result: Did not qualify

Top returnees: Ali Moyer, Sr., P (2022: all-league); Kittzie Mera, Sr., 1B; Sara Bufi, Sr.,c2B; Kiah Edwards, Jr., CF.

Key newcomers: Leyen Prado, SS, Kenna Vogel, 8th grader, C.

Strengths: Very hard-working, great listeners, want to improve, constantly give it their all.

Question marks, if any: We are young and a small program this year, some inexperience in bigger games.

Coach’s outlook: Our goal is to build up from last year after finishing on a hot streak. Some of our players need some development, but we have a bright future ahead of us. We are hoping to pull off some upsets and sneak into the playoffs.

Noteworthy: Dillon spent eight years as the JV coach and was a varsity assistant for one year before becoming head coach.


Coach: Gina Perino (34th year)

2022 record: 11-11

2022 Section 1 result: Lost in a quarterfinal

League favorite: Rye Neck

Section favorite, Class B: Rye Neck

Top returnees: Anna Morea, Sr., P/1B (2022: All-League); Isabella Wish, Jr., LF (2022: All-League); Abigail Saraceno, Jr., C (2022: All-League); Montana Peppard, So., 3B/P.

Key newcomer: Lexi Tomaselli, 8th-grader, SS.

Coach’s outlook: I feel we have a nice ball club, mixed with some experienced, seasoned players, and some young talent. Unfortunately, our question mark will be in the pitching department, but we do have position players that will step up and fill the role of pitcher to keep us in the game. This is a great group of hard-working kids.

Noteworthy: Pleasantville opened the season, Monday, against Putnam Valley and coach Rena Finsmith. Finsmith was a stand-out player for Perino during his Pleasantville career. … Even though Perino does not have her career record, she has amassed more than 350 varsity wins.


Coach: Rena Finsmith (11 years)
2022 record: 7-13

League favorite: Pawling

Section favorite, Class B: Rye Neck, Pawling, Magnus, Ardsley

Top returnees: Mary Mikalsen, Sr., S (2022: All-Section, .633 average, 31 hits, 23 RBI); Kylie Recuppio, Jr., P; Grace Driscoll, Sr., OF, Ava Broccolo, Sr., OF; Maggie Sampson, Jr., OF; Maggie Caputo, Fr., 3B; Katelyn Flanagan, Fr., CF (2022: All-Section honorable mention, .368 average, 18 RBI).

Key newcomers: Callie Sniffen, So., 1B; Madison Martinez, Fr., 2B; Erin Moynihan, Fr., IF; Sara Martins, Jr., C; Kaleigh Rund, 8th-grader, C.

Strengths: The leadership that is made up of our captains, Mary Mikalsen, Ava Broccolo, Grace Driscoll, and Kylie Recuppio. They will help bring our newcomers and young players up to the speed and pace of the varsity level; team chemistry.

Coach’s outlook: We are a mix of veteran and young players. We will have some growing to do, but that will come with experience of playing in games. The girls have been working hard in practice day in and day out to improve on all aspects of the game. The coaches look forward to watching the team grow together while also seeing each individual player improve this season.

Noteworthy: Mikalson and Sniffen are Haldane students. … Mikalson will attend Siena in the fall and also play softball. … The Tigers opened the season with wins over Briarcliff and Irvington. Sniffen hit for the cycle against Briarcliff, including two home runs, among her five hits. She scored five runs and drove in six. Caputo doubled, tripled, homered and had five RBI and Recuppio added four RBI. Caputo had two hits and four RBI against Irvington. Broccoli had three hits and Sampson collected three RBI.


Coach: Heather Kleinberger (fourth year)

2022 record: 12-9

2022 Section 1 result: Lost in quarterfinals to Albertus Magnus

League favorite: Rye Neck

Section favorite, Class B: Rye Neck and Albertus

Top returnees: Emma Levine, Sr., SS (2022: All-League, All-Section honorable mention, .435 batting average, 27 hits, 21 runs, 16 RBI); Tanner Smith, Jr., P (2022: All-League, All-Section, opponents’ batting average, .191, 182 strikeouts (382 in varsity career); Kathryn Wolfthal, Sr., LF (2022:

All-League, 24 hits, 3 HR).

Coach’s outlook: We return six starters and are working on fitting the other pieces together. Tanner gives us a chance in every game and if we can find enough offense and play solid defense we have a chance to make a run.


Coach: Chris Rowan (first year)

2022 Section 1 result, Class AA: Lost in the championship game to North Rockland in extra innings.

Top returnees: Ryleigh Falvey, Sr., CF; Peri Kahn, Sr., SS; Ava Galligani, Jr., 2B; Serena Gillen, So., P; Alexis Tighe, 8th-grader, OF.

Key newcomers: Neela Older, Fr., UTIL; Gianna McMahon, Fr., C/1B; Emily Anasta, So., C/3B; Ava Ritterman, Fr., UTIL.

Coach’s outlook: We want to continue the legacy and reputation of the White Plains’ softball program while also implementing new traditions. We hope to do this by playing to our strengths of team unity, clutch offense and having positive outlooks on tough games. So far, the team has shown how they can pick each other up after mistakes, come up with big-time situational hits and visualize success in competitive games.

Noteworthy: Rowan was retired coach Ted O’Donnell’s assistant for the last 10 years. O’Donnell retired after the 2022 season. In 27 years, he amassed 426 wins and is one of only five Section 1 coaches to eclipse 400 victories. … 2022 White Plains’ graduate Alexa Galligani is starting for South Florida.


Coach: Samantha Fernandez (fifth year)

2022 record: 19-2

2022 Section 1 result: Lost to Hen Hud in a quarterfinal

Top returnees: Adrianna Albano, Sr., SS (2022: All-Section); Sophia Reilly, Sr., 2B; Bella Gomes, Sr., 1B/P; Eva Destito, So., C (2022: All-League); Vittoria Milizia, Jr., 3B; Katie Piehler, So., OF; Julia Centofanti, Jr., 1B.

Key newcomers: Madison Maxwell, Jr., P; Jax Valle, Jr., UTIL; Penny Einhorn, So., OF; Alyssa McEniry, So., UTIL; Gigi Bjerke, Fr., UTIL; Sienna Katzenburg, Fr., UTIL; Katie Riordan, Fr., UTIL.

Strengths: Senior leadership.

Coach’s outlook: When you lose 8 players, that will significantly impact any team. I think we will be just fine as the way the girls are committed, their hard work and the team atmosphere is just great so far! Our team’s goal is to simply grow and learn from our mistakes. We are young, so making adjustments is key for this year’s team. We will continue to work hard everyday, have fun with it and push each other!

Noteworthy: Albano will attend the Stevens Institute of Technology in September and play softball. … 2022 Yorktown graduate Maya Servedio is attending Colgate and playing softball. … Yorktown graduate Brandon Martelli is Fernandez’s assistant. … Yorktown split its first two games – 14-2 win over Panas, 14-11 loss to Nanuet.

SOMERSGREELEY, and WESTLAKE softball did not reply to several requests for information and comment.

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