Softball Previews – White Plains Sets its Eyes on Prize

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By Tony Pinciaro

WHITE PLAINS comes into the 2024 Section 1 Varsity Softball season with a bit of a chip on its shoulder.

Annually, the Tigers are among the Section 1 elite in softball and at least a semifinal trip to the Section 1 Class AA Softball Championships is a given.

White Plains OF Alexis Tighe should supply the Tigers with plenty of thump this season.

However, the last two years, the Tigers have been denied a Section 1 title by North Rockland and 2023 graduate Delaney McGovern (playing at Tampa University) in the championship game. The disappointment over the results has made the Tigers even hungrier.

“It has definitely been hard to get that far in the last two years and come up short twice, but we have worked to put it behind us and continue to become stronger,” said junior and captain Ava Galligani. “It has motivated us to work together, and hopefully take the section title this year.”

White Plains is among the favorites in Class AAA this season as a result of the state adding a sixth class this school year.

Even though the Tigers lost pitcher Serena Gillen (moved to Florida), Galligani, an All-Section pick last year, headlines a strong returning nucleus.

Freshman Alexis Tighe steps into the circle as the Tigers’ No. 1 windmiller. Tighe was All-Section and All-State last year, as well as the league offensive player of the year.

Catchers/first basemen Emily Anastacio (junior) and Gianna McMahon (sophomore) as are pitcher/outfielder Lily Onorato (senior) and second baseman/outfielder Neala Older.

Galligani, who also leads the outfield, welcomes a trio of new outfielders in sophomore Madison Steptoe and freshmen Olivia Doria and Valentina Garcia (also a second baseman). Also joining the varsity this year are seniors Madison De La Rosa and Una O’Donnell.

White Plains had spring training in Florida last week, allowing the Tigers to practice and play scrimmages in nice weather and to also acclimate themselves to each other.

White Plains CF Ava Galligani is among the top two-way players in Section 1 this season.

Galligani was pleased with the trip and what she has seen from her teammates through preseason.

“I have definitely noticed that we have very coachable girls on the team,” said Galligani, a four-year varsity starter. “They take constructive criticism very well and apply it during practice. Although we are a young team, our younger girls have done a great job settling into our routine, and are extremely hard workers.

“The recent trip we took to Florida gave the team and coaches a good gauge of what we need to clean up for the remainder of the season. It was a great bonding experience for us, and hopefully it will show on the field.”

The trip was also perfect timing as the Tigers embark on a difficult early-season schedule as they host Carmel (a 2023 Class AA semifinalist), Tuesday, and Harrison, Saturday. White Plains follows this up going to North Rockland, 4/8, hosting Arlington, 4/10, and heading to R.C. Ketcham, 4/12.

Even with the grueling schedule, White Plains is prepared because of its mental toughness.

“Yes, losing in section finals two years in-a-row has not just been a heartbreaking experience, but it has been a learning experience,” Galligani said. “There’s always something to take away from wins and loses, and I think we will come back even stronger this year.”


Coach: Lauren Pesce (sixth year)

2023 record: 7-13

2023 sectional result: Lost in a Class B first-round game to Pawling.

Section favorite, Class B: Valhalla; Rye Neck

Top returnees: Jayna Borrelli, Sr., P (four-year starter; 2023: .577 batting avg., 25 RBI, 40 runs);  Jillian Mauro, Sr., CF/1B (four-year starter; 2023: .535 avg., 28 RBI, 17 runs); Bailey Apter, Sr., SS (three-year starter; 2023: .373 avg., 15 RBI, 25 runs).

Strengths: Depth and versatility.

Coach’s season outlook: As a team we are looking forward to improving upon our record from last year and building the program. As coaches, we are eager to watch the girls grow into great softball players and further their passion for the game.

Noteworthy: Pesce was a starting midfielder on the 2001 Mahopac Field Hockey team Class A New York State champions.



Coach: Brandon Johanson (eighth year)

2023 record: 12-8

2023 sectional result: Lost in a Class AA semifinal to White Plains.

League: I-C – Carmel, Mahopac, R.C. Ketcham, John Jay-East Fishkill, Arlington.

Section favorite, Class AAA: R.C. Ketcham

Top returnees: Deirdre Curley, Sr., SS/Pitcher (three-year varsity player, All-Conference, All-Section); Lindsay Sikora, Sr., 1B; Meagan Giordano, Sr., 2B; Mikayla Pappas, Sr., OF; Madi Hurlie, So., OF/P; Kylie Murphy, SO., OF/C.

Key newcomers: Lily Madio, So., IF/P; Olivia Frick, So., IF/OF/P; Alanna Meliken, Fr., IF/C; Isabella O’Shea, Fr., OF/C;

Keira Curley, So., IF; Ava Preza, Jr., 1B.

Strengths: Team chemistry and competitiveness.

Question marks, if any: Experience.

Coach’s season outlook: We play in the toughest league in Section 1 with Ketcham, John Jay-East Fishkill, Arlington, and Mahopac so there are no easy games. We are a young team, so we are going to make some mistakes, but we are hungry to succeed. We are going to abide by our standards and learn from our mistakes and compete every inning of every game.

Noteworthy: Deirdre Curley should reach 200 strikeouts this season.


Hen Hud sophomore chucker Emma Barbelet is an emerging presence in the Sailor circle.


Coach: Suzanne Leslie (ninth year)

Top returnees: Ellie Fredman, Sr., CF (six-year starter, All-League); Erin Baumeister, Sr., P (four-year starter, 2023: All-League); Ellie Zamora, Sr., C (four-year starter, 2023: All-League); Natalie Barillaro, Jr., SS (four-year starter, 2023: All-League); Sophia Misiti, So., LF.

Key newcomers: Zia Choen, So., P; Charley Benjamin-Eichenberg, Eighth-grade, 1B/UTIL.

Coach’s season outlook: Our coaching staff is looking



Coach: Toni Ann Licata (third year)

2023 record: 14-8

2023 sectional result: Lost in a Class A quarterfinal to Tappan Zee.

Top returnees: Sofia Rodriguez, Fr., P (2023: .424 average, 17, RBI, 18 runs, 12 SB, All-Section); Grace Cleveland, Sr., 1B/OF (2023: .400 avg., 11 RBI, 17 runs, 9 SB); Valentina DeLuca, So, C (2023: 10 RBI, 17 runs, 11 SB)

Key newcomers: Evangeline Santos, Fr., P; Tara McNamee, So., 3B/C; Avery Genovese, So., 2B/SS; Taylor Reiling, So., 1B/OF; Sofia Valenta, Fr., 2B/SS.

Strengths: I think having a young team this year, who all have been playing with each other for a long time and who work well together is definitely going to be a strength for us.
Coach’s season outlook: This year our program is growing and I am happy to say we should have both a strong JV and Varsity teams. We have a new facility this year, and are eager to start hosting games at our new field! Having both Sofia and Evangeline pitching for us this year, although they are young they are very talented and ready to start working hard. Our goal this season is to build upon last year, working on the mental part of the game more, and getting ourselves into better physical shape to push through the season. If we get to the second or even third round of sectionals this year I will be a very proud coach. Playing and communicating as a team and everyone working together to not only win games, but to learn from the losses is all a coach can ask for.

Noteworthy: Licata played for Fox Lane and former coach Anthony Rodrigues. … Fox Lane has a new turf softball field.



Coach: John Glashoff (fifth year)

2023 record: 15-5

2023 sectional result: Lost in a Class A first-round game.

Top returnees: Emma Morley, Sr., C; Emma Johannsen, So., CF (2023: All-Section, League II-D player of the year); Ja’nae Walker, Jr., 3B; Angelina Carbone, Fr., SS (2023: All-Section); Kiely Morley, Jr., 2B; Emma Barbelet, So., P (2023: All-League.

Strengths: Pitching, infield defense.

Coach’s season outlook: Our goal is to improve and work hard every day. We have a young team and our returnees are doing a good job supporting the new players.

Noteworthy: Glashoff previously coached Hen Hud softball earlier this century and guided the Sailors to the 2007 Section 1 Class A title behind pitcher Nikki Tamburri. … Amy Glashoff, John’s daughter, and Rick Boyle are his assistants.


Yorktown C Eva Destito can put a charge into the Huskers’ lineup while providing a top-notch backstop.


Coach: Michelle Mazzocchi (fourth year)

2023 record: 6-14

2023 sectional result: Lost to Eastchester in a Class A out-bracket game.

Top returnees: Jenna Rosenberg, Jr., C (three-year starter); Uma Sharma, So., SS. (2023: All-League).

Strength: Offense.

Coach’s season outlook: The Horace Greeley Softball Program is being rebuilt and in the past three seasons of coaching we have improved greatly. We are looking to have a .500 season but, more importantly, build as a team.



Coach: Danielle Fiore (first year)

2023 record: 15-6

2023 sectional result: Lost in a Class A first-round game.

Top returnees: Amanda Cohen, Sr., SS (2023: All-Section honorable mention, All-League); Nicole Mautone, So., P (three-year starter; 2023: All-Section honorable mention); Madi Panos, Jr.

Strengths: Hard-working group, pitching.

Question marks, if any: Youth.

Coach’s season outlook and goals: We have a younger program than most so if anything I would say it would be experience at this level, but that is about to change quickly. I want the girls to have fun, play for each other, and grow not just as athletes, but young women as well.

Noteworthy: Fiore was the assistant coach the last few years to her high school coach, Steve Fallo. Fiore was also a two-time All-Section catcher. She was also MVP of the 2003 Class A State Field Hockey Championships as Lakeland beat Willliamsville North, 2-0. Fiore scored both goals.


Hen Hud sophomore chucker Emma Barbelet is an emerging presence in the Sailor circle.


Coach: Julia Walpole (first year)

2023 record: 7-12

2023 sectional result: Lost to Pearl River in a Class A quarterfinal.

Section favorite, in your class: Mahopac.

Top returnees: Ava Lichtenberger, Sr., P (2023: opponents’ batting avg. – .208); Gianna Lafaro, So., C (2023: .400 avg., 28 hits, 31 RBIS); Camdyn Wilson, So., SS (2023: 19 RBI, six doubles, three triples).

Key newcomer: Samantha Ereditario, Fr.

Strengths: Eight-nine returning starters/experience;

hard-working group.

Coach’s season outlook: As a new coach I hope to hit the ground running with aggressive play, strong pitching and solid defense. Playing in a tough league I know every day will be a challenge. However, I think this is a great group of players that will rise to the occasion. Wolfpack softball will be all about fundamentals, execution and confidence. We have a great group of girls with a lot of enthusiasm/work ethic and a ton of talent. I am extremely excited to see what we can do out there on the field this year.

Noteworthy: Walpole is a former Mahopac varsity softball player. … Lichtenberger will attend Sacred Heart University in September and also play softball. … 2021 Mahopac graduate Shannon Becker is a pitcher for Notre Dame.



Coach: Mike Dillon (third year, 13th overall)

2023 record: 5-15

2023 sectional result: Did not qualify.

League: Lakeland, Hen Hud, Sleepy Hollow.

Top returnees: Madi Duteau, Jr., 3B (All-League, 2023 stats: .509 OBP); Kenna Vogel, Fr., C (All-League, 2023 stats: .356 batting average, 17 runs, 15 RBIs).

Key newcomers: Jessica Caragine, Fr., 2B/C; Casey Murphy, Fr., 1B; Breanna Barry, 8th-grade, P; Sophia Alvarado, 8th-grade, SS.

Strengths: Hard-working group, looking to rebound from last season. Healthy from the start. A more-balanced schedule.

Question marks, if any: We have a young team that we are hoping are ready to step up to the varsity level. Time will tell.

Coach’s season outlook: Our number one goal is to make the playoffs. We hope to develop this young team to have a solid core for the next several seasons.




Coach: Gina Perino (34th year)

2023 record: 10-10

2023 sectional result: Lost to Putnam Valley in a Class B quarterfinal.

Sectional favorite, Class B: Rye Neck

Top returnees: Abigail Saraceno, Sr., C; Isabelle Wish, Sr., OF; Montana Peppard, Jr., P/3B; Lexi Tomaselli, Fr., SS.

Coach’s season outlook: We have a small team due to numbers, but I believe we can be competitive in the league, even though we lost two valuable senior starters. The team seems to be fired up and ready to go and challenge whoever we face. They are working hard as a unit, which I love.

Noteworthy: Perino is one of the longest-tenured softball coaches in Section along with Rye Neck’s Joan Spedafino. … Even though Perino admits she does not have her career record, she has registered close to 400 wins. … Former Pleasantville All-Section player Rena Finsmith is the Putnam Valley varsity softball coach.



Coach: Rena Finsmith (12th year)

2023 record: 15-7

2023 sectional result: Lost to Albertus Magnus in a Class B quarterfinal.

Section favorite, Class B: Rye Neck, Valhalla, Magnus, Pawling.

Top returnees: Katelyn Flanagan, So., CF (three-year varsity starter; 2023: .439 batting average, 36 hits, 18 RBI; All-Section honorable mention); Maggie Caputo, So., 3B (three-year varsity player; 2023: .369 avg., 27 RBI, 31 hits); Kaleigh Rund, Fr., C (2023: .454 avg., 23 RBI); Kylie Recuppio, Sr., P; Maggie Sampson, Sr. RF (.356 avg., 20 RBI); Madison Martinez, So., 2B.

Key newcomers: Sara Martins, Sr., UTIL; Erin Moynihan, So., 2B/OF; Madelyn Mauri, Eighth-grade SS; Delina Gritz, Fr., 1B; Strengths: Senior leadership, team camaraderie, returning experience.

Question marks, if any: Youth/inexperience.

Coach’s season outlook: The three seniors are really great student-athletes and terrific role models for our very young team. Assistant coach Barbara Lapadula and I are looking forward to the girls’ improvement in learning and playing softball each day. Our goal is to compete hard in every game until the last out, learn from challenging times, celebrate the small victories, and have fun bonding with each other.

Noteworthy: Finsmith surpassed 100 wins last year. … 2023 Putnam Valley player and Haldane graduate Mary Mikalsen is playing softball at Siena.


Coach: Teresa Ricci (second year)

2023 record: 12-6

2023 sectional result: Lost to Fox Lane in a Class A first-round game.

Top returnees: Emily Boyle, Fr., P (2023: All-Section honorable mention, All-League); Katie Cole, So., SS (2023: .530 batting average, All-Section); Katherine Papa, Jr., C (All-League); Ellie Walsh, Sr., LF/P (2023: .435 avg., All-Section honorable mention, All-League).

Key newcomers: Caitlin Fitts, Fr., 1B; Keira Griggs, Fr., 3B.

Strengths: Pitching, hitting and speed.

Question marks, if any: Numbers.

Coach’s season outlook: I am super excited to have a very young and athletic group of girls that are hungry to play. Our team goals are to win the league and to win more than one sectional game.

Noteworthy: Somers won a league title last year for the first time since 1981. … Boyle surpassed 100 strikeouts at the end of last season.



Coach: Heather Kleinberger (fifth year)

2023 record: 15-8

2023 sectional result: Lost in a Class B semifinal.

Section favorite, in Class B: Albertus Magnus

Top returnees: Tanner Smith, Sr., P (four-year starter, 4-time All-Section, 2023: League Player of the Year, 4th-team All-State, 627 varsity strikeouts, 40 varsity wins); Emily Blume, Sr., C.

Strengths: Pitching and catcher.

Question marks, if any: With many new positions to fill, we will see how our four returning starters are able to lead the Vikings behind the arm of Tanner Smith. Will see how the bats step up this year after graduating some great bats.

Coach’s season outlook: It will be a little bit of a rebuilding year for Valhalla, who returns only four starters. There are many positions to fill, but a lot of determined players willing to step in and get the job done.



Coach: Mike DeAngelo 2017 (seventh year)

2023 record: 9-12
2023 sectional result: Lost to Dobbs Ferry in a Class B game.

Section favorite, Class B: Wide open – Rye Neck, Albertus Magnus and Pawling are all well-matched.

Top returnees: Mallory McCarthy, Sr., CF/SS; Eliana Papini, Sr., OF; Lily Mirabella, Jr., C; Kathryn Lonergan, Jr., P.

Key newcomers: Marlena Balic, Fr., SS; Genevieve Livoti, Fr., 3B.

Coach’s season outlook: Overall, we are an inexperienced group, but we play with a lot of energy and passion. We have built some really great chemistry and look forward to seeing how much we can translate that to the softball field by mid May.



Coach: Samantha (Fernandez) Giuliano (sixth year)

2023 record: 9-13

2023 sectional result: Lost to Harrison in a Class A quarterfinal.

Top returnees: Eva Destito, Jr., C (2023: 493 batting average, All-Section); Katelyn Brown, Fr., P.

Key newcomers: Ally Pace, So., UTIL; Ava Huffman, So., UTIL; Alicia Cinicolo, So., UTIL; Gabby Coppola, So., UTIL; Kayla DiSanzo, So., UTIL; Mia Horn, Eighth-grader, UTIL.

Coach’s season outlook: We have some good, young talent. Our goal is to compete in every game and be all in.

Noteworthy: 2022 graduate Maya Servedio is pitching for Colgate.

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