For one final time this season, here are my predictions for how I think the Class A state softball final four will go:
Semifinal 1: Pearl River vs. Section 11’s Sayville: Truthfully, I think of the two semifinal matches Pearl River has what might be the toughest path to the championship game. And there is precedence for the Pirates. Go back four years ago, they played a team from Long Island (Floral Park to be exact) in the semifinals and won in dramatic fashion then went to finals and won that pretty handily. But, the biggest difference between Floral Park and this year’s Sayville team; Sayville were the ones who watched last year’s champion Hamburg celebrate and raise the state championship plaque. The Golden Flashes are going to be out on a mission Saturday similar to what Hamburg was on Tappan Zee last year and we all remember how that turned out for the Dutchies. The Golden Flashes have some really good power hitters in their lineup in Kristen Becker and Chrissy Miloro. And their pitchers Julia Simpson and Allie Petillo are pretty good. It will be a game time decision which of the two pitchers will start for the Golden Flashes, but if it is Simpson, it won’t be the first time the Pirates have seen a lefty BUT the last time was pretty early on in the season according to what Pirate coach Chris Woolgar told me a couple of days ago. For the Pirates, for one thing, the defense will have to continue playing stellar. That outfield of Kirsten McGarvey, Jules Madigan, and Julie Marisco has been outstanding throughout the post-season but especially the last three games. Also the defense up the middle — Erin Woods and Sam Alicandri will need to continue to making the plays. Offensively, truthfully, as cliche as it sounds, it needs to start with Alicandri. When she gets on base, her speed ALONE makes her extremely dangerous. The top four in the order — Alicandri, Woods, Mandy McCarthy, and Emily Turilli have all done their jobs in the post-season, especially the last three games. I really think if anyone is due to really break out — it’s Dee O’Malley. She had her contributions in the last three games but I would like to see her have her “Jamie DeGennaro moment”. In case you don’t remember, in 2010, DeGennaro had the hit in the state semifinals that put the Pirates into the championship game. I think for O’Malley, a hit like that would do absolute wonders for her confidence. What I think I need to see more than anything else is a solid outing from McCarthy in the circle… am I asking for a flat out dominant performance where it’s a couple hitter and double digit strike outs? No I am not, but if I am being completely honest, I wouldn’t be that shocked if it did. I want to see McCarthy keep the hitters off balance and be the McCarthy we’ve all seen since she’s been the starter for the Pirates. I think if the Pirates play the way they have all year, they will be playing for a championship. Prediction: Pearl River 4, Sayville 3.
Semifinal 2: Section 6’s Williamsville-South vs. Section 2’s Troy: Williamsville-South is a scrappy team. I will give them a lot of credit. But here’s the thing, they are one of those teams that if you are behind on them you can come back on and that was never more evident then in their Section 6 title game when they saw a 4-0 lead evaporate and relied on a six-spot in the seventh to win it. They’ve got a very solid power hitter in Brianna Clark. When it comes to Troy, I truthfully don’t think Section 3 champion Oneida knew how to truly handle Troy because they put up eight runs in the regional final to send them to the state semifinals. But don’t let that 8-0 score fool you; all those runs were scored on singles according to the Oneida Dispatch. The one thing Troy pitcher Hunter Levesque was able to do is keep Oneida (who had scored 17 runs combined in the last few games before the regional final) scoreless. She’s a good pitcher and Jessica Marsh has a good stick. Prediction: Troy 4, Williamsville-South 2
My projected final: Pearl River vs. Troy: If this is the final, then this could be a total dog fight. Both teams are extremely scrappy. I think the experience of Pearl River will carry them in this game. The 2014 Pirates have played ball together for a lot of years and have been to multiple little league championship games and state tournament games. They know how to play when the pressure is on. But this is where I think the experience from this year’s Morabito tournament will come into play. The Pirates played some of the best teams in that tournament including Brockport with Gatorade Player of the Year Julia DiMartino. They know how to handle themselves when the pressure is on. Do I think Troy’s a good team? Absolutely, you don’t make it to this point in the tournament and are a bad team. I just think that top to bottom the Pirates are a good team. And if they make it to the final, a lot of what I said about the game with Sayville applies here. Prediction: Pearl River 4, Troy 0. I think the slap game of Sam Alicandri could be really big here.