Softball Notebook

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Waltr Panas player hoists the first NYSPHSAA Region 1 Class A title plaque in school history.

Panas Knocks off Minisink Valley, Zeroes in on NYS Title

Panthers are Final 4 Bound After 2-0 Region 1 Championship Triumph

By Tony Pinciaro & Ray Gallagher

The Walter Panas varsity softball team was on a major roll, reeling off four consecutive victories to win the Section 1 Class A championship.

The Panthers’ mojo was bursting at the seams entering the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Softball Championships. However, Panas had the good fortune, if you want to view it that way, of earning a bye into the regional final.

So, instead of getting right back on the field and playing, Panas received a week-long break. This is the last thing a team on a roll wants, to have its momentum disrupted. No problem though, for Panas.

Panas P Olivia Bordenaro tossed a six-hitter and centerfielder Bri Viola made the defensive play of the year, fueling Panas to a 2-0 win over Section 9 champion, Minisink Valley, in a Class A regional final at Rhinebeck High School.

Panas advances to the first state final four in program history. The Panthers will play Williamsville North (Section 6) in one semifinal, Friday, 9 a.m., at Moreau Recreational Park in Fort Edward. The other semifinal will be Sayville (Section 11)-Ballston Spa (Section 2), also Friday, 9 a.m. The winners play for the state title, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Panas Coach Dale Chappelle gave his team Monday and Tuesday off, returning to practice Wednesday.

“We really worked at practice on hitting for contact and not for home runs,” said senior Gianna Servedio, who will attend Hunter College in the fall, major in nursing and play softball. “We found that before a big game, we would do a huge team bonding and I feel like that really brought us closer together. We also scrimmaged John Jay East Fishkill and competed closely with the great team they have there.”

John Jay-East Fishkill was the Section 1 Class AA champion.

Minisink Valley earned a berth in the regional final with a 6-5 win over Vestal, but the Section 9 champion could not solve Bordernaro, who has allowed five runs in five post-season games. Even when Minisink Valley put aluminum to ball, Panas’ defense was there, highlighted by Viola, who made three game-saving grabs, including one that sent her over the fence.

Panas, which scored in the first inning on a SS Julia Petrovich’s sacrifice fly, led 1-0 in the third when Viola made the outstanding play, worthy of ESPN’s top plays of the day.

“Minisink had runners on first and second with one out,” Chappelle explained. “The ball was hit deep, to dead center. I thought it was out. She got the glove up at the last second and backed right into the mesh fence. Next thing I saw was her feet up in the air and I was worried she might be hurt, but she held on and was ok.

“If Viola doesn’t catch that ball, its a very different game. I’m so happy for her because she is one of the best human beings I know.”

Viola provided Panas with an instant energy boost.

“After that catch our energy level as a team shot through the roof,” said senior Isabella Feraca, who will attend the University of Rochester in the fall, major in chemical engineering or optics, and play softball. “Not only were we all excited for her, deep down we all knew that catch saved our historic run, considering we haven’t won a sectional title since 1983. I think we all realized we had to keep fighting.”

The one run held up until the sixth inning when Panas added an insurance marker as Servedio had a lead-off single and scored on a wild pitch.

Bordenaro made the run look huge. Even though she only

had two strikeouts, her and catcher Kat Reynoso were in sync.

“What made Olivia effective was that she knew the defense behind her has her back,” Servedio said. “Also Olivia and Kat have great chemistry, and combined with their skills and softball intelligence they can make great things happen.”

As the game progressed and even though it was only a one-run game through five innings, Feraca realized Minisink’s impatience setting in.

“After we scored in the first inning, I think Minisink realized it was going to be a close game and they definitely became more aggressive in their approach,” Feraca said..

Once Servedio doubled Panas’ lead, Bordenaro had Minisink at her mercy.

Panas’ magical run continues and the Panthers are excited about another bus ride, especially the seniors.

“The seniors are ecstatic,” Servedio said. “Most of us have played together since we were 10. It’s crazy to us because we just think it is so surreal. It’s been a dream my whole life.”

Servedio and Feraca are joined by fellow senios, Jenna Guevarez, Tahari Williams, Lexi Lorino, Sam Mills and Viola.
“It feels like something I never imagined and I’m sure the team feels the same,” said Feraca of the sectional title and state final four trip. “We’ve always had the potential to make it and now that we’re here, we aren’t going to stop fighting and we’re here to play our hearts out.”

Chappelle and his team have embraced the underdog role and are making believers out of everyone.

“There is no pressure on us and we are having fun while playing great ball,” Chappelle said. “The attitudes are amazing and distractions are not affecting us. This was probably the best defensive game we’ve played all year, and we needed it.”

SS Petrovich, who has been steady in the hole, said defense was the order of the day.

“We have a lot of confidence in each other and we’re all in defensively,” she said. “We just believe in each other so much. My heart was just happy for Bri. I knew she could make those plays. Now, we’re going to the Final 4 and we’re going there to play two and win both. We got this!”

The Section 1 Softball Coaches Association held its annual all-section dinner and many players from the Putnam Examiner coverage area were recognized for their excellent seasons.

LAKELAND, which went 22-1 this season and were the Section 1 Class A runner-up, had three All-Section recipients in senior Claire Fon, junior Krystal Badillo and freshman Shannon Scotto. Coach Steve Fallo won the League II-C Coach of the Year.

The Adelphi-bound Fon was also named the League II-C Most Valuable Player and Pitcher of the Year. She was also the Skip Walsh scholarship winner (Walsh was the long-time Eastchester softball coach). Fon was the biggest winner of the night, as she was the only player to win both Pitcher of the Year and Position Player of the Year honors in her league.

It was a banner year for coach Rena Finsmith and her PUTNAM VALLEY team as the Tigers won the first league title since 2009 and were the Section 1 Class B runners-up. PV also reached its first sectional final since 2005.

Junior Alex Waters and sophomore Emily McKenna were selected All-Section. McKenna was also chosen as the league pitcher of the year.

Junior Keiko Waters and sophomore Francesca Reyes were All-Section honorable mention selections, Sophia Lord was chosen as a Diamond 9 plus 1 scholarship winner. She was also an All-League choice along with Gianna D’Adonna and Kathleen Gallello.

In her first year at YORKTOWN, Samantha Fernandez guided the Cornhuskers to the Section 1 Class A quarterfinal round.

The Cornhuskers were recognized with Samantha Riccardulli and Allie Cortino earning All-Section honors. Kaitlyn Bennett was chosen All-Section honorable mention and Juliana Piehler received All-League honors. Julianne Strauss was selected for the Diamond 9 Academic Team.

HEN HUD saw juniors Jill Attinelly and Michaela Capicotto lock down All-Section Honors with Honorable Mention going to freshman Alana Espinoza. Coach Kurt Thomas waned League II-E Coach of the Year.

MAHOPAC had six of its 12 Varsity Softball players all have a GPA of 92 or above. 9 of 12 were honor roll students, so the Indians were solid on and off the field this spring. All-Section P Shannon Becker won the Pitcher of the Year award for the second year in a row while batterymate Michelle DellaMura was also tabbed All-Section. BREWSTER junior Madison Chiudina earned All-Section as did SOMERS seniors Gabby Mazzotta and Karly Moscarello, along with HALDANE junior Shianne Twoguns.

CARMEL’s Julian Nacinovich secured and All-Section HM nod.

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