KDJ: Analyzing the Section 1 softball field
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SECTION 1 SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT
Breaking down the Final Eight
Favorite: John Jay-EF. The defending state champs has rolled through their entire schedule with one exception — a win over Ketcham where the Patriots needed an eight-run comeback. That may be what gives the rest of Class AA a glimmer of hope heading into the quarterfinals.
Top contender: Clarsktown South. The Vikings entered the postseason with a little momentum after handing Pearl River its only loss. But the brackets didn’t break the way they’d hoped since they’ll likely have to beat Ketcham and John Jay to win a title. But right now, South has the offensive firepower and pitching depth to seriously contend.
Sleeper: Fox Lane. The Foxes weren’t really in the conversation despite a blowing through the regular season. But beating North Rockland, and using a sixth-inning comeback to do it, showed this group might have more fight than originally thought. Alison and Christie Lombardi are such a dynamic tandem in the middle of the lineup.
Best quarterfinal matchup: No. 8 Arlington at No. 1 John Jay-EF. The last thing a heavy favorite like Jay wants is to see a fierce rival with nothing to lose in the quarterfinals. The Patriots beat Arlington twice, by 8-1 and 4-2 margins. But the Admirals have been knocking on the door all season. Do they finally break through?
Best chance of an upset: No. 5 Carmel over No. 4 Fox Lane. Carmel ended the season a far better defensive and pitching team than when it started. Look for a big effort from pitching Jasmine Ennabe in a game that’s really a toss up.
Don’t be shocked if..: Ketcham beats John Jay in the final. The Indians had Jay beat two weeks ago and let it slip away. Don’t expect that game to have any psychological damage on Ketcham. They know they can beat the Patriots. With no pressure on them, it’s not impossible to think they actually might.
Top three pitchers
Amanda Gisonni, John Jay-EF: Section 1’s top pitcher has managed to top her 2011 season. She has the Patriots aiming to repeat.
Casey Herzog, Ketcham: Herzog is a veteran who won’t be fazed by the bright lights of the postseason. She’ll be anxious to face to face South and maybe John Jay again in the finals if they advance.
Jasmine Ennabe, Carmel: The flame-throwing ace has an astounding 107 strikeouts in 75 innings and has posted 1.87 ERA with starts against John Jay, Ketcham, Brewster (twice) and Mahopac (twice.
Top three hitters
Allie Tobias, Clarsktown South: Always a power threat, Tobias is hitting .375 with five homers and a team-high 26 RBI.
Nicole Wilson, Yorktown: The pitcher can certainly handle the bat, too. Along with 103 strikeouts in 85 innings pitched, she’s batting .434 with 13 RBI.
Tateum Valentine, John Jay-EF: You can really take your pick in this lineup. But Valentine is can hit for average and power.
John Jay-EF over Arlington
Carmel over Fox Lane
Ketcham over Horace Greeley
Clarkstown South over Yorktown
John Jay-EF over Carmel
Ketcham over Clarkstown South
John Jay-EF over Ketcham
Favorite: Pearl River. Forget what happened in the final weekend of the regular season. The loss to South might have been the best thing to happen to a young group like this. The Pirates are refocused and aiming for a fifth straight Section 1 title. When it comes to talent top-to-bottom, they’re a clear favorite in a deep pool of contenders.
Top contender: Ursuline. The Koalas earn this distinction although it really could have gone to any of the other six teams. Although Ursuline lost to Tappan Zee a month ago, I’ve long thought the Koalas are the most legitimate threat to Pearl River when you match the teams up. I’m sticking with it.
Sleeper: Beacon. The Bulldogs are up against in the quarterfinals against a Pearl River team that’s rocked the competition all season. But there’s definitely talent here. They’ll need a career effort from pitcher Kathleen Boyle and flawless defense. But it’s not impossible.
Best quarterfinal matchup: Take your pick. They’re all good matchups, as you’ll see below. Even the Beacon-Pearl River matchup is intriguing when you consider what phenomenal seasons Boyle and hitters Chelsea Dexter and Kristen Yanarella had. The other three games should be decided in the final inning.
Best chance of an upset: No. 7 Brewster over No. 2 Pelham. The Pelicans ended the season on fire, winning their final 15 games by a 129-28 margin. But Brewster has faced a tougher schedule and is a better team for it. If it’s a close game late, give the Bears a slight advantage.
Don’t be shocked if..: If 3 of the 4 underdogs win in the quarterfinals. It’s hard to really call any of these teams underdogs. Brewster, led by star Marisa Delzio, is only a No. 7 seed because they played a brutal schedule. No. 6 Eastchester lost a 2-0 nailbiter to Ursuline back in the opening week. And No. 7 Tappan Zee only lost 5-2 to Harrison earlier this month in a game that was tight throughout. All three of these matchups could really go either way.
Top three pitchers
Anna Crowley, Eastchester: Crowley could make either of these lists. A .600 hitter with 16 homers and 46 RBI, she’s also posted a 1.45 ERA with 63 Ks in 53 innings.
Mandy McCarthy, Pearl River: A sophomore, McCarthy stepped into some pretty big shoes and thrived. She’s 13-1 with 104 strikeouts and a 1.02 ERA.
Kelly Keith, Pelham: The senior really locked in on the mound this season, especially in the second half. She’s struck out 124 batters, posted a 1.64 ERA and a sparkling 17-2 record.
Top three hitters
Jenna Webb, Harrison: The talented veteran has saved her best season for last. She’s driven in a Section 1-best 52 runs while batting .550 with 25 runs scored.
Brittany Mitchell, Ursuline: It’s unknown whether Mitchell will pitch at all in the postseason. But she’s sure capable of hitting. Her average is at .500 with six homers, 22 RBI and 32 runs scored.
Krystin Neroda and Sam Alicandri, Pearl River: These girls belong in the conversation together because they’re about as a dynamic a tandem as you’ll find at the top of the order. When they get on base, they almost always find a way to score.
Pearl River over Beacon
Tappan Zee over Harrison
Ursuline over Eastchester
Brewster over Pelham
Pearl River over Tappan Zee
Ursuline over Brewster
Pearl River over Ursuline
Favorite: Valhalla. The three-time defending champs turned a corner in early May and have emerged as the favorite thanks to a 3-1 win over Rye Neck two weeks ago. There’s veterans and young talent on this roster and, after a rough start, it seems to be blending quite well.
Top contender: Rye Neck. Some still consider the Panthers the team to beat because they have the best player in the tournament, ace pitcher Jessica Calvini. Rye Neck, though, will need to get some offense because they’re not going to put up runs in the postseason with the ease they did against their schedule to this point.
Sleeper: Albertus Magnus. Being a small school against a Rockland County schedule isn’t easy as the Falcons learned this season. But they’re dangerous.
Best quarterfinal matchup: No. 9 Westlake at No. 1 Rye Neck. Could the Panthers really get bounced here? Well, remember that these teams met two weeks ago and Rye Neck won just 1-0. On the right day, Westlake can be mighty dangerous.
Best chance of an upset: No. 6 Kennedy over No. 3 Bronxville. The Broncos have had a great season but they haven’t faced quite the schedule the Gaels have endured.
Don’t be shocked if..: Valhalla’s reign ends. The Vikings already beat Rye Neck once. But can they duplicate the pitching and defense they got in that game and do it again in the final? It’s not going to be easy. And you can’t almost guarantee Calvini will be on top of her game in the biggest start of her career.
Top three pitchers
Jessica Calvini, Rye Neck: The senior is arguably the best pitcher in Section 1. She’s 14-1 with a miniscule 0.75 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 93 innings.
Sydni Holtz, Valhalla: Just a freshman, Holtz really came into her own as a pitcher. In her last six starts, she’s 6-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 22 strikeouts.
Kim Yano, Albertus Magnus: The numbers don’t show just how solid Yano has been all season. She’s kept the Falcons in every game and had her best effort in a win over Tappan Zee.
Top three hitters
Ailish Horgan, Kennedy: The senior lefty has posted video game numbers this spring, hitting .587 with 27 runs scored and 15 RBI. She almost always finds a way to get on base.
Brandi Coon, Valhalla: This lineup is stacked but it’s a sophomore who’s leading the charge of late. Coon is 30 for 60 (.500) with five homers and 26 RBI.
Tina Karaqi, Westlake: The slugging third baseman doesn’t see many good pitches to hit. When she does, she usually takes advantage. She’s 22 for 38 (.579) with seven homers and 18 RBI.
Rye Neck over Westlake
Dobbs Ferry over North Salem
Kennedy over Bronxville
Valhalla over Albertus Magnus
Rye Neck over Dobbs Ferry
Valhalla over Kennedy
Rye Neck over Valhalla
Email your thoughts or predictions to Kevin Devaney Jr. at email@example.com