The Spring Sports Season is upon us and White Plains High School Baseball and Softball wasted no time beginning to evaluate their talent for the upcoming 2019 Seasons.
The Tigers Baseball team is following-up on a remarkable season whereas they went undefeated at 8-0 in the league and won the regular season Section 1 Conference 2-B Title last year.
The Tigers record last season was 17-4-1, after beating Mahopac High School in the First Round of the Section 1 AA Playoffs, while being eliminated by Arlington High School in the Quarterfinals.
Despite the fact that the Tigers return 13 varsity senior players, they lost many impact players after graduation in June, which leaves them seeking new talent to fill those voids.
“We have 13 returning varsity players. However, we do not return many starting players,” noted Tigers Head Baseball Coach Marcel Galligani, who is beginning his 19th year at the helm.
The notable players the Tigers varsity lost after last season include first baseman/pitcher Spencer Lodes. Also gone is ace pitcher and leadoff hitter Michael Attonito, who will play for Head Coach Nick Restaino at Sacred Heart University this season.
The Tigers also lost their first-string catcher and clean-up hitter Matt Dorchak, who after graduation took his talents to Villanova University. The Tigers also graduated veterans Conor Vogel, Paul Rand and Steven Flores. Therefore, the heart of the Tigers line-up and their star pitchers have moved on to the college ranks.
“When we look back to our roster from last year we are technically returning Anthony (Burgio), Nicky Gomez in the outfield and Ryan Sevcik, who will play the majority of the season at third base. Those are really the only guys we are returning with varsity baseball experience,” said Galligani.
Tigers’ senior pitcher/outfielder Anthony Burgio played a major role on the mound and at the plate for the League Championship team last season. Burgio, who can stifle batters with his array of pitches, has already signed a Letter of Intent to attend Mercy College.
“I am very excited and ready to take the role. There is nothing better than playing the game I love with my best friends,” said Burgio. “I am working with four pitches this season, fast ball, change-up, slider and curve ball and ready to give it my all,” emphasized Burgio.
Galligani nurtures local players throughout their formative baseball years through his Hit-N-Run Program and freshmen and junior varsity level baseball teams. If Galligani ever needed his younger development programs to pay dividends on the varsity level, it would be this season with the lack of varsity experience on his roster.
“It should help us this year. However, the speed of the play from where players are transitioning to from the junior varsity and some of the younger levels is certainly going to be different, so there is just going to be an adjustment period,” stated Galligani.
The Tigers will open their 2019 season at RC Ketchum High School, on Thursday, March 28. The Tigers Baseball Home Opener will be against Clarkstown South, on Tuesday, April 2, at 4:30 p.m. at WPHS.
Lady Tigers Softball is Young but Talent Ready
If there is one major aspect of improvement to the Lady Tigers Softball Team this season, it would be the return of pitcher/first baseman Ava Rainone. The junior standout missed all of last season after sustaining an injury the day prior to the start of the 2018 season.
“Last year was really tough because I put in a lot of work before the season and broke my ankle the day before the season started. It feels great to be back,” said Rainone, a Team Captain and All-Section selection as a freshman in 2017.
With Rainone out last season the pitching responsibilities fell on eighth grade standout Ella Utschig, who was more than up for the task. Nonetheless, as the regular season winded down, Utschig became injured which was major setback for the Lady Tigers on the mound without Rainone.
Ted O’Donnell begins his 24th year as Tigers Head Varsity Softball Coach with his trusted Assistant Michael “Skip” Stevens at his side for the 18th consecutive season. O’Donnell will also be helped by renowned trainer Chris Rowan as his Volunteer Assistant Coach.
Tigers Softball finished with a 15-6 record last season while advancing to the Section 1 AA Quarterfinals, where they lost to the 2018 Section 1 AA Champs Yorktown High School. “I was very pleased with last year, especially considering some of the injuries we faced,” commented O’Donnell.
What is most noticeable regarding the Lady Tigers this season is that there are no seniors on their 2019 roster. However, they have a potent squad of young varsity talent, who has been playing together for many years.
Some of the returning players include junior third baseman Sarah DiSanto, a power hitter, who was All-Section her freshmen and sophomore seasons. Also, ninth grade prodigy second baseman Alexa Galligani who was the leadoff hitter last year. If the name sounds familiar, yes, she is the daughter of Tigers Varsity Head Baseball Coach Marcel Galligani.
Natasha Mendez also returns with her big bat to play shortstop as a freshman this year. Mendez started at shortstop last season and batted clean up as an eighth grader. Anchoring the Tigers battery is sophomore catcher Zoey Kovach. Kovach is the first sophomore Team Captain that O’Donnell has had in his 24 years at the helm “We are really good group of girls and nobody should count us out just because we are young. The chemistry between us is really good and we are on to big things,” said Kovach.
Tigers Softball will open the 2019 season with their Home Opener versus Carmel High School, on Monday, March 25, at WPHS.