PEARL RIVER, N.Y. — The more talk about how Pearl River softball would struggle overcoming the graduation of an all-state pitcher and shortstop, the more Sam Alicandri and Mandy McCarthy smiled.
It didn’t make them mad. It just made the sophomore phenoms motivated.
The two players assigned the task of replacing former standouts Katie O’Flynn and Gemma Mahoney — who guided the Pirates to the last four Section 1 championships — continued to display their burgeoning star power on Monday.
Alicandri went 5 for 5 and scored three runs and McCarthy fired five shutout, two-hit innings as Pearl River stunned Harrison 13-0 in a Section 1 matchup at home.
“We’ve tried to look at who we have now, not who we’ve lost,” senior centerfielder Kristyn Neroda said. “A lot of people don’t know about the younger girls on the team. They work hard and come ready to play every day.
Pearl River, which had six sophomores on its roster, scored five runs in the first inning and six in the second in a dominant effort.
“We took it as a challenge,” McCarthy said. “You always want to do what people say you can’t. It’s been fun to try to step up and beat that.”
Pearl River continues to defy those who believed the program was in any sort of regression. Monday’s game was billed as a showdown of two of Section 1’s top Class A contenders but was one-sided from the start.
After a 45-minute delay because Harrison’s bus broke down on I-287, Alicandri — Pearl River’s leadoff hitter and shortstop — laced a triple to right center and scored on a double steal.
McCarthy, the No. 3 hitter, singled home senior Kristyn Neroda. Nicole Leote followed with an RBI single, Amanda Hartigan double home another run and Deidre O’Malley brought in the fifth with a sacrifice-fly.
The Pirates did one better in the second. Again Alicandri led off with a hit and scored on an overthrow on a steal attempt. McCarthy, Leote and Hartigan allowed with RBI singles.
In the first two innings, Pearl River’s Nos. 1-5 hitters combined to go 10 for 10 with nine runs scored and four RBI.
“We knew they were a very good team and that we had to come out strong,” said Alicandri, who credited Neroda for helping the young group mature.
“She is such a good leader. Just having her behind me knowing she’s going to make the plays, she’s a great leader on the field.”
That was more than enough run support for McCarthy. After seeing sparing time last season, she’s come out of the gates this season and emerged as one of the area’s top young arms. She had four strikeouts and allowed just two hits before leaving after five.
Leote capped the scoring with a two-run double in the fourth as the Pirates improved to 5-0.
“This year we’ve been getting good cuts and quality at-bats,” Neroda said. “But we know we still have to keep working hard and get better every day.”
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MSGVarsityKDJ