By Tony Pinciaro
MAHOPAC senior Shannon Becker was up to her usual dominance in the circle last week, throwing four shutouts, including her fourth no-hitter of the season.
While everyone on the softball circuit is well aware of Becker’s brilliance on the diamond, Becker is more proud of her recent accomplishment — being selected the Con-Ed Scholar-Athlete of the week (of 5/17).
Becker, who will attend Notre Dame in the fall and also play softball, put the award in perspective.
“As everyone always says, we are student-athletes,” Becker said. “The student part comes first. School and academics are very important to me. A lot of people overlook the academics with all the accolades, so being named the Con-Ed athlete of the week is very important to me. It’s nice to be recognized for how hard I work in school, as well as on the field.”
Mahopac was in two tight games as the Indians used a Michelle Dellamura RBI single to walk off against North Rockland, 1-0. Following 7-0 and 15-0 wins over Brewster, Becker and YORKTOWN’s Maya Servedio engaged in a windmilling duel. Mahopac generated two runs in the first inning and Becker no-hit an excellent Cornhuskers’ lineup for a 2-0 win.
In the victory over Brewster, Becker struck out 17, including her 900th career K. She also cranked a two-run homer. Mia Lanter also smacked a two-run homer. Ava Lichtenberger added two doubles and Gabby Marino, Gianna Lafaro and Dellamura each drove in runs.
Mahopac scored its runs in the first inning, against Yorktown, on an RBI double from Ashley Usewicz and run-scoring single from Lauren Zecca.
Following its three wins, Mahopac improved to 12-0 on the season and is currently ranked No. 1 in Class AA in New York, according to the New York State Sportswriters Association Poll.
“Our team this year is definitely special,” Becker said. “I think each of us know our role on the team and execute what needs to be done to help us win. Everyone does their job and when we put it together, everything falls into place.
“We have gelled together very nicely and work together as a team so I think that helps with success.”
LAKELAND continued its excellent season with three wins in four games — Yorktown (3-0), Fox Lane (11-0) and Walter Panas (3-0). The legend of Stella Bale continues to grow after she threw a no-hitter against Panas, her third of the season. She also no-hit John Jay-Cross River and Horace Greeley. The Hornets are now 10-2 this season.
The loss was a 1-0 verdict, in eight innings, to Arlington. In the loss, Bale rang up 19 strikeouts, giving her 212 in 101 innings this season.
Bale struck out 16 Panas hitters. She also had a hit and scored a run. Hannah Matusiak and Shannon Scotto had RBI. Ryleigh Melendez had two hits.
Ava Knopf led the offense against Fox Lane with two hits and three RBI. Bale collected three hits, scored three runs and drove in two. Scotto and Melendez each had two RBI, Matusiak chipped in three hits and freshman Emily Yazzetti had two hits and scored twice.
Bale and Scotto each had two hits and a RBI against Yorktown and Leah Cohen collected two hits and scored a run.
Following its loss to Lakeland to open the week, YORKTOWN bounced back to beat SOMERS before running into Shannon Becker and Mahopac in a 2-0 loss.
Maya Servedio pitched an excellent game against Mahopac, allowing the runs in the first inning. She finished with 12 strikeouts and reached base on an error. Servedio has rung up 101 strikeouts in 49 innings.
“Losing to Lakeland and Mahopac were okay losses in my eyes,” Yorktown coach Samantha Fernandez said. “My girls battled at the plate against two really good pitchers. And Maya threw very well against Mahopac.
“Maya and Lainie (Ornstein) have been doing a phenomenal job setting up batters and calling the games. I’m excited for Mahopac, again, Monday. Always love a good, competitive game. We are more than excited for our last five games — Mahopac, Carmel, twice, and Brewster, twice.”
Yorktown, now 10-3 this season, hammered 18 hits against Somers, led by Kelly Jennings, who went 4 for 5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Alyssa Buck had a trio of threes — three hits, three RBI and three runs scored. Servedio added two hits and drove in four runs. She also compiled eight strikeouts in three innings.
HEN HUD honored its seniors to open play last week and the honorees fueled a 16-1 win over Horace Greeley. Shannon Burke wielded the aluminum with four hits in five at-bats, including a home run, and she scored four runs. Kami Johannsen singled, drove in two runs and scored twice and Jess Bleakley singled and had a run scored. Alana Espinoza struck out nine in five innings.
The Sailors opened the week with a 7-1 victory over Carmel. After Senior Day, Hen Hud followed it up with an 8-5 win over John Jay-Cross River as Sydney Muranaka and Lex Schaffer each had three hits, scored two runs and drove in a run. Johannsen had a hit and two RBI.
Hen Hud (9-3 this season) then hosted the inaugural Hen Hud Blue/White Softball Championship with Rye Neck, Fox Lane and Putnam Valley comprising the field.
The Johannsen sisters powered Hen Hud to 15-0 first-round win over Putnam Valley. Kami collected three hits and four RBI and Paige had two hits and three RBI.
Burke and Muranaka each plated three runs as the Sailors won the title with a 12-4 victory over perennial Section 1 Class B power, Rye Neck.
Taeghan Dapson drove in two runs and scored three runs. Espinoza was selected the tournament’s most valuable player.
“We had a good week and I thought we played our best game in the championship against Rye Neck,” Hen Hud coach Will Mauro said. “We put the ball in play all night against a good pitcher. We fought for that win.
“We have a doubleheader against Ossining and then against Panas. The following Monday and Tuesday against Lakeland. We’re starting to play well hopefully in time for sectionals.”
A young PUTNAM VALLEY team lost its three games, but the Tigers are continuing to improve.
The Tigers played in the Hen Hud Blue/White Tournament, but lost to Hen Hud in the first round and Fox Lane in the consolation game.
Freshman Oliva Dobra doubled, against Fox Lane, for her first varsity hit, and also registered her initial two varsity RBI. Fellow freshman Faith Marrero also collected her first varsity hit. Abigail Lowder had two hits, scored a run and drove in a run.
Putnam Valley dropped an 8-7 verdict to Croton, which had beaten the Tigers by double-digits in their first meeting. Taylor Peduto singled, drove in two runs and walked three times. Kathleen Gallello, Ava Derella, Lowder and Marrero also had RBI for Putnam Valley.
PEEKSKILL lost its two games — Woodlands overcame Peekskill in a slugfest — 32-30 — and Ossining no-hit the Red Devils. Jealina Searight led Peekskill’s offense against Woodlands with four hits, four runs scored and four RBI. Kaia Patterson chipped in two hits, three RBI and three runs scored. Bryonna Brothers and Evelyn Zumbo-Coello each scored five runs.
Veteran WHITE PLAINS’ varsity softball coach Ted O’Donnell was closing in on a milestone, but he did not talk about it to his team.
Once the players learned that O’Donnell was nearing 400 varsity wins with White Plains, the Tigers’ drive and determination increased to get it for him as quickly as possible.
“Once hearing that coach’s 400th was just one win away, our team was so psyched to help him achieve this goal,” said junior Alexa Galligani. “We became even more focused and serious. It became 100 percent effort 100 percent of the time. It was critical that we gave back to him for all the sacrifices he has made for us. Such an accomplishment is not an easy task and he deserved every last bit of that win.”
O’Donnell, in his 25th year, reached the 400 mark with a 20-5 victory over New Rochelle. He joins Section 1 softball coaching legends with 400 or more wins — Joan Spedafino (Rye Neck), Tom ‘Skip’ Walsh (Eastchester) and Tony Toronto (North Rockland/Nanuet). Walsh and Toronto are retired.
Galligani spearheaded the offense, ripping two home runs, including a grand slam, among her four hits. She also doubled and drove in six runs. Natasha Mendez delivered a two-run homer among her four RBI. Zoey Kovach added three hits and two RBI and Sasha Persaud and Ryleigh Falvey had three RBI apiece.
The always understated O’Donnell gave his players and coaches, throughout his career, the credit.
“The 400 wins over the past 25 seasons in a White Plains High School softball program is an accomplishment that so many have contributed to,” O’Donnell said. “First and foremost, I have had the privilege every season to coach talented, dedicated and selfless student-athletes who understand the meaning of team.
“I also share this milestone with the three other members of my coaching staff. Skip Stevens, who has been with me for 20 years, Chris Rowan, who has been with me for 10 years and long-time JV coach, Patty Gilmartin. This couldn’t have been achieved without them.”
Galligani knows something about what makes an excellent coach. Her father, Marcel, is the White Plains varsity baseball coach.
“It’s truly been an honor to play for a man like Coach O’Donnell,” Alexa Gallligani said. “His ability to effectively communicate and teach the game is such a respectable trait of his. He’s always positive and sets defined goals for us that reinforce his key message, which is that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.
“Not only does he teach the game, he makes it fun and that makes it much more enjoyable on a daily basis. These are some abilities that most coaches don’t have and that makes coach stand out from the rest as such a great coach to play for.”
O’Donnell added his win No. 401 with a 9-4 triumph over Ursuline.
Alexa Galligani went 4 for 4, including a home run, two doubles and three RBI. Younger sister Ava Galligani added two hits and two RBI. Falvey, Mendez and Kovach had two hits apiece and Darla Palombo had a run-scoring double. Eighth-grader Serena Gillen struck out 12 and allowed five hits for the 8-2 Tigers.
FOX LANE broke out in a huge way to snap a two-game losing streak. The Foxes erupted in a 20-5 win over Putnam Valley in the Hen Hud Blue/White Softball Championship consolation game. Fox Lane, now 4-5 on the season, won despite missing four starters and two captains.
Jordynn Killion struck out 13 and she had three hits, including a home run and a double. Victoria Bodine doubled, tripled and had five RBI and Katie Christiano doubled and homered.
“Victoria Bodine is only a freshman, but she came up and did very well for us,” Fox Lane coach Anthony Rodrigues said.
VALHALLA won its game — 17-1 over Westlake — as Kathryn Wolfthal had three hits and Ava De Natale and Emma Levine added two hits apiece.