Alannah Basile pitches a complete game for Island Trees. (May...

Alannah Basile pitches a complete game for Island Trees. (May 4, 2012) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

The eve of the Nassau softball playoffs has arrived.  What better time to update the top ten teams in an end-of-the-regular-season grand fashion.  As always, keep in mind that this is the opinion of one man.  So be gentle with your angry e-mails.  Without further ado, your top ten softball teams in Nassau County…

1. ISLAND TREES (11-1, 15-2) – The balance of power in Nassau Class A has been shifted thanks to Alannah Basile (pictured) and company.  The Conference ABC-I champs finished the season at 11-1 in league and 15-2 overall.  My regular season MVP award in Class A goes to Basile, who finished 15-1 with a 1.58 ERA in her first full season as a pitcher. She always had the power, but she incorporated the change-up during the season and really kept hitters off balance, holding opponents to a .148 batting average.  Not many holes in the lineup, starting with Meghan Acton at the top and Nicole Pellegrino in the heart of the order.  The 7-9 hitters have also been very productive, combining to drive in 24 RBIs, led by Colleen Smith, who has 12.  The Bulldogs are defensively sound with second baseman Brittany Ciaramitaro, who has seen increased activity with all of the balls hit the opposite way with Basile in the circle, and third baseman Tori Tedeschi, who plays the bunt so well that it makes it difficult for opposing teams to play small ball.  Island Trees was my preseason pick to win the county and that’s not about to change now.  Island Trees beats Floral Park to become county champions.  
2. MACARTHUR (12-2, 16-3) – The top-seeded, Conference AA-I champs are in their best position to win a county title since 2004.  A large reason for that is the bat of Kristen Brown, who is my Nassau Class AA MVP.  The UNC-bound shortstop, who finished the season with 13 home runs and over 40 RBIs, became an even tougher out this season after showing her ability to drive the outside pitch the opposite way.  She is also one of three pitchers on the Generals who could get the ball in postseason play.  Briana Lombardo, who has great movement and a wide variety of pitches, finished 7-0 this season.  Ashley Massoni, who has a great rise, drop and curve and showed great composure for a sophomore, went 5-1.  None walk many batters and they have a strong defense that makes plays behind them.  They have a versatile lineup with many interchangeable parts that can play three or four positions.  Time to name drop: Jena Cozza, Emily Lyons, Kristen Gay, Kaitlyn Fitzsimmons, Kristin Daly…

3. CARLE PLACE (11-1, 16-3) – We move onto a team that is currently looking down at all of the Class B teams in New York.  The Frogs are the top-ranked team in the state thanks in large part to their pitcher Ashley Cole, who is my pick for Nassau Class B MVP.  Cole finished 16-2 with a 0.37 ERA, 240 strikeouts and just seven walks.  She tossed 12 shutouts, including the first perfect game in school history.  Over her final five starts of the season, she went 5-0, allowing eight hits and no runs with 58 strikeouts in 35 innings pitched. Carle Place is also home to one of the best catchers on the Island in six-year starter Leanne Iannucci.  The Cornell-bound backstop is in her third season calling games with Cole. She has a great eye at the plate, rarely falls behind in the count, and reads pitchers very well. The longtime batterymates, along with Tori Hytell, Taylor Ruscillo, Kaitlyn Davis and company, have their team primed to make a run at a state title. I predict that the Frogs will be making a trip upstate in the near future.      
4. MASSAPEQUA (8-6, 12-7) – Paying no mind to records or seeding here and putting Massapequa ahead of East Meadow, although it’s very close. Something about this Chiefs team is scary and I wouldn’t want to face them in the playoffs. They’ve got two pitchers they can throw at you in Renee Vaiano, a good off-speed pitcher, and Kim Giurlando, who throws a little harder. They’ve got dangerous hitters -- Danielle Gariglio, Natasa Macri and Stephanie Giurlando to name a few.  They’ve got something many teams don’t: a key addition to the playoff roster.  Third-team All-State first baseman Alyssa Zinkiewitz, who missed the entire season with a foot injury, will reclaim her position in the clean-up spot for the playoffs, making an already dangerous team even more potent.  Upset alert: Massapequa beats MacArthur in the county final.        

5. EAST MEADOW (9-5, 10-7) – The county runner-up last season has a chance to make another run this season.  They are a well-rounded team with young but solid pitching: Kerri Shapiro, who can throw six pitches and has big game experience from last season’s run, and Emma McKillop, who has come on of late, highlighted by the one-hitter she tossed against Massapequa. Sophomore Madison West has established herself as, not only the backbone of the team, but one of the top catchers on the Island. Danielle Cutuli and Taylor Conti combine to form a formidable left side of the infield. Jena Dragoon has really capitalized on getting the starting job at second base and had a very nice season.  Expect another deep postseason run by the Jets.     

6. FLORAL PARK (8-4, 11-5) -- The race for the second best team in Class A is a tight one but, in the opinion of one man,  the edge goes to Floral Park. Reason being? Sam Gionvanniello is a pretty convincing tiebreaker. Look at her postseason resume: Freshman year – state title.  Sophomore year – Long Island championship.  Junior year – County semis despite an elbow injury that caused her to miss most of the season.  Senior year -- ??? Offensively, Floral Park gets contributions from different people at different times, whether it’s Christine Hand, Angelica Titor, Sam Perri, Kristina Santoro, etc.. Floral Park has never finished short of the county final four during the Giovanniello era and that won’t change this season.   

7. PLAINEDGE (8-4, 11-4) – Just because Floral Park gets the edge in these rankings, doesn’t mean you should forget about the two-seed, Plainedge.  They came within a game of a county title last season and have as good a chance as any to capture it this year. Kim Nowak has been brilliant in the circle, going 11-3 on the season. Taylor Curran has had a great season behind the plate.  Dolores Dimemicke has swung the bat well.  All the pieces are in place for a title run.  
8. LONG BEACH (7-7, 10-8) – They’ve been a streaky team.  Started off 5-0, lost six straight, won five straight, then lost two very close games to Massapequa and MacArthur to end the season. Ashley Martin has been the big reason for their rebound in the second half.  She has been locating her pitches and getting ahead of hitters.  That allows her to show off her full arsenal, which includes a curve, screw, rise and change. Sophomore first baseman Brianna Rivera has developed into a clutch hitter.  Harvard-bound Annie Winerip is leading the team in average and RBIs.  Leadoff hitter Kelsey Larson has been setting the table for hitters like Heather Winestein and the always dangerous Kelsey McLaughlin. Long Beach is my dark horse team in Class AA.   
9. OCEANSIDE (7-7, 9-9) – One of only two teams to upset MacArthur this season.  The come-from-behind win over the Generals helped secure a bye and should provide a huge confidence booster heading into the postseason.  Kudos to Jeannie Callahan, Arianna DeMarzo and Kristen Gallub for some clutch hitting in that game. Ashley Davis had four or five different pitches she can throw at you and locates very well.  She has kept Oceanside in games all season.  Nicole Milano provides senior leadershp behind the plate and some power in the clean-up spot.  It’s hard enough dealing with one McNamara, never mind two.  The freshman twins, Claire and Megan, have provided some firepower. The Sailors have proved they can beat anyone.
10. CLARKE (6-6, 9-6) – When you’re in a one-game playoff and your season is on the line, one of the last pitchers you’d want to be facing is Sarah Cornell.  The eighth-grader throws gas and when she is hitting her spots, hitters can’t keep up and she is tough to beat.  The only team to hand Island Trees a conference loss this season, Clarke certainly has the bats needed to make a run at a county title with Alyssa Colletti, Amanda Ferrara and Aly Smith.  But Clarke will go as far as Cornell will take them.  Her command will come with experience and once she develops those secondary pitches, Nassau County will officially be Clarke’s for the taking. That could be as soon as this month.