So, I didn’t know that Debbie would go about her picks round-by-round, but since this is the first round where one of my failed predictions actually plays some kind of factor, I think the only fair thing in the sake of competition — and especially since we’re dead even — is for us to predict day-by-day from here out.
(My theory: Debbie and I both had John Jay-East Fishkill beating Suffern in the quarterfinals, so if she’s going to make a pick in the semifinals for Suffern-North Rockland, I think it’s only fair that we both make them. We both have North Rockland, but I just don’t believe she should have the possibility to get an extra win on me — in what could be the deciding win — based on a matchup neither of us technically had coming to fruition.)
Looking at Debbie’s picks for today, we have the exact same predictions (and similar scores), so nothing will change record-wise between us. In the event we pick the same champions, the scoring differentials in the four finals will serve as the tiebreaker.
Here’s where I’m at entering Thursday. I want to note that only one of my picks is affected by the aforementioned reasoning.
No. 5 Ketcham at No. 1 Clarkstown South: Ketcham making the semifinals doesn’t surprise me. I originally had it beating Ursuline in the quarterfinals, then I caved and changed. The Patriots were my first No. 1-ranked team in the preseason; the Vikings are currently my No. 1 team. Both boast great lineups and each have a mammoth power-hitter in Andrea Bombace and Sara Herskowitz, respectively. Ketcham will have the drive down from Wappingers, which isn’t a pleasant bus ride, while Clarkstown South will have its legs loose on its home field. Prediction: Clarkstown South grinds it out, 6-4.
No. 6 Suffern at No. 2 North Rockland: I just want to take a quick second to make like Jay-Z and wipe the dirt off of my shoulder after saying that Suffern — despite it’s near-.500 record — was a dangerous team. The last time these two teams met, it was an 11-inning battle (North Rockland won 2-1). With a spot in the finals on the line, I’m expecting another great game. Prediction: I thought that John Jay-East Fishkill would give North Rockland a lot of trouble, but I also thought that if Suffern could get by the Patriots that North Rockland would win this rematch. I’ve got North Rockland, 4-1.
No. 4 Lakeland at No. 1 Brewster: The Hornets are one of the many teams on my “planned to see, but got rained out” list, so I only have MaxPreps and word of mouth to go on with them. Lakeland played a balanced schedule, earning two wins each against Yorktown and Mahopac, and beating Hen Hud in the quarterfinals to avoid a season sweep. With one senior on the team, the Hornets will a wasp’s nest that nobody wants to go near next season, but this year looks to be all Brewster. The undefeated Bears don’t really do anything wrong and have shown the ability to come back even when a team is appearing to get the better of them. Brewster hasn’t allowed a run this postseason, but I don’t think it blanks Lakeland. Prediction: Brewster wins it, 7-4.
No. 11 Yorktown at No. 2 Pearl River: I was pretty confident in my upset pick of Yorktown over Eastchester, but I’ll admit that I didn’t think it was getting by Theresa Swertfager. Like Brewster, Pearl River hasn’t allowed a run this postseason, but has showed significantly less offense (Brewster has outscored opponents 24-0; Pearl River has outscored teams 4-0). Still, the only number that matters is the zero. It doesn’t matter how many runs your team scores. If opponents aren’t scoring on you, you have little to worry about. With Emily Turilli back at full strength, the Pirates should give Brewster a run for its money. Prediction: Because of this post, I say Pearl River’s bats come alive, 8-1.
No. 5 Ardsley vs. No. 1 Valhalla at Ardsley H.S.: The word just came in from Ardsley coach Noreen Degnan that today’s game has been moved to Ardsley for a 4:15 p.m. start, which could greatly play into Ardsley’s favor. The Panthers are on a roll — particularly senior Raina Gorman, who is becoming a nightmare to face on the mound or in the box — and given the blueprint of Ardsley’s field, things are shifting into the Panthers’ favor. The left field at Ardsley slopes downhill, which can wreak havoc for fielders. Given Ardsley’s right-handed power-hitters like Gorman, Marie McNerney and Julia Bretts, if the Panthers can put runners on with them up, this can be an interesting game. In their last meeting, the teams were tied most of the game until Valhalla pulled away from a 7-2 win. Ardsley already has a world of motivation and now has home field advantage. Valhalla, however, is still the best until someone beats it. I think this will be the most exciting game of the day, which is why I selected it as my live coverage game. I almost want to say it will go to extra innings, but I’ll hold off. Fans should still love it. Prediction: Valhalla wins a thriller, 4-3.
No. 3 North Salem at No. 2 Rye Neck: I think a lot of people think that Rye Neck will maul North Salem, but some may forget that these two battled in a 3-2 contest earlier this year. Like Ardsley, the Tigers have not forgotten that loss and on a playoff stage, there’s no better place to try to prove people wrong. I think the end result of this game will be heavily contingent on the offensive and defensive performances of North Salem junior Anastasia Pennacchio and Rye Neck senior Diana King. Prediction: Rye Neck wins, 6-2.
Photo credit: Peter Carr/The Journal News