Thursday was exactly four years ago when the Pearl River Pirates softball team went up to Waterloo and came back with the first ever state softball championship for Rockland County.
As Alicandri reminisced at Tuesday’s Section 1 softball All-Section dinner, she was the courtesy runner for their catcher current Stevens Institute of Technology junior Jamie DeGennaro.
“I think I was on base like twice after Jamie got a hit in one of the games,” Alicandri remembered.
She came in for DeGennaro in both games of the 2010 tournament. As Alicandri reiterates, with the 2014 squad, the shortstop’s role is completely different.
The memories from that tournament are to far from her mind.
“I remember parts of the games,” Alicandri said. “I also remember the feeling after we won, the unreal feeling. It was so special back then but I feel like to be there with this team, it’s even more special,” Alicandri said.
The Pirates understand the circumstance they’re in getting down to the last four teams in Class A.
“Out of 96 teams in the section, we’re the only ones going,” Senior Erin Woods said Tuesday at the softball dinner. “I’m so grateful that it’s with these girls. We’ve been playing together for eight years and it’s really special to do it with them.”
The Pirates (23-3) begin play in the state final four Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against Section 11’s Sayville at the Moreau Recreaction Park in South Glens Falls. They are the state runner up from last year and won the whole thing back in 2012.
If the Pirates win, they’ll play the winner of Section 2’s Troy and Section 6’s Williamsville-South around 5:30 p.m.
One thing you can say about the Pirates is they’ve shown all year long that not only can then get out to the early lead and hold it but win late as evident by how they won the Section 1 title back on May 31 (Pearl River wins first title since 2011), defeated Maine Endwell in the regional semifinal in eight innings (Pearl River advances to regional finals), and upending Marlboro in nine in the regional finals (Pearl River tops Marlboro to reach state semis).
And what’s been shining through for the Pirates has been the defense not just from Woods (2B) and Alicandri up the middle. It’s been the outfield defense of Kirsten McGarvey (LF), Jules Madigan (CF), and Julie Marsico (RF). Madigan, also in attendance at the All-Section dinner, recognizes how key the defense has been the entire run of the post-season.
“We started at the beginning of the season wanting to be the best outfield in the section and we’ve been working towards that goal,” Madigan said. “I love being out there with Kirsten and Julie — my left and right fielders, they’re awesome. We just work really well together with our chemistry. With that going on in the outfield, the infield is just as good. Our defense has been our main focal point this year.”
And Woods added “I think it’s important that if we’re struggling with our bats we can always fall back on our defense. I know I’m confident if the ball’s put in play we’re going to get it.”
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the play of the defense is ace Mandy McCarthy.
“The outfield has saved so many games for us,” McCarthy said at the All-Section dinner Tuesday. “Even with Eastchester — a ball off the fence, plays like that they make you appreciate the field so much. You know you’re never standing on that field alone. They’re always there to field the ball for you.”
What’s it going to take for this Pirates squad to be the second team from Rockland County to win the NYSPHSAA Class A softball title?
“It’s already done if we’re going to get it or not,” McCarthy said. “We put in the work over the pre-season and since we were five years old. We’ve put in everything in so just playing the games it’s about performing.”