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Previewing the Nassau softball playoffs

MacArthur twins Ashley, left, and Jessica Budrewicz will

MacArthur twins Ashley, left, and Jessica Budrewicz will try to lead the Generals to their third straight Nassau and Long Island titles. Credit: James Escher

1.MacArthur seeks a three-peat

After moving down to Class A from AA proved to be no issue for the Generals last season, MacArthur looks to win its third straight country and Long Island title.

Led by two-time Newsday All-Long Island pitcher Jess Budrewicz, her twin sister, Ashley, behind the plate and a deep lineup including Lisa Fabig and Ali Verdi, MacArthur finished 13-0 in Nassau ABC-I and enters the postseason as the clear favorite to represent Nassau in the Long Island Class A final.

2. But no one’s going to take it easy on the Generals

Nassau ABC-I has been one of the most competitives conferences on Long Island this season. With Carey, Mepham,,Bellmore JFK and Island Trees all beating up on each other during the season, there will be some great postseason matchups throughout run to crown a 2018 champion.

After finishing one out away from reaching the county final last season Carey, led by Francesca Cirone and Marissa Nicoletti with Jaclyn Schemmer and Dana Romano in the circle, is capable of another Seahawks on a deep postseason run after finishing 9-4 in second place.

Mepham’s powerful lineup, with three homers from Brianna Morse, opened its season with a 13-1 victory over Class AA powerhouse Massapequa, and continued playing strong ball throughout the spring. After finishing 13-1 in Nassau ABC-II last season, the Pirates have proven worthy of their move up to the top conference in its class, finishing 8-4 in third place.

Danielle Polirer has been a force in the middle of the Bellmore JFK lineup all season, hitting three homers and its go-to pitcher in the circle, winning eight games. Along with Azaria Vargas’ bat in the lineup, the Cougars will be a difficult out this postseason after a 7-5 record.

3. Finishing oh-so-close last season

Island Trees, the defending county runner-ups, dealt with some injuries early in the season, but look to finish strong like last year. Led by Newsday All-Long Island Gabi Scharff at third base and Hannah Vogt both in the circle and in the middle of the order, watch out for the Bulldogs trying to disrupt MacArthur’s quest for a state title, despite a 5-8 record in theleague this season.

4. The Nassau A darkhorses

Division, the Nassau ABC-II champions at 9-5, should not be taken lightly due to playing in a lower division. The Blue Dragons have victories over Nassau AA-I East Meadow and Baldwin and gave MacArthur one of its closest games of the season, ultimately losing 4-1. Led by Dani Roselli in the middle of the order with Haley Giles behind the plate and Alyssa Weinberg and Jordyn Pasqueralli both at the plate and in the circle, Division won’t be an easy matchup throughout the tournament.

Clarke and Seaford both played tough in Nassau A-II, as Clarke hopes to get strong pitching performances from Lizzy Belfiore and with first baseman Ally Koutsogiannis proving to be one of the top hitters in the county. With a team filled with playoff experience, the Rams look to make some postseason noise.

Seaford, led by the hitting of Julie Hilcken and pitching of Anna Butler is another team to keep an eye on. South Side finished as co-Nassau ABC-III champions at 13-3, led by the pitching and hitting of Morgan Gilligan. Bethpage (12-4) finished its season winning nine of 10 games led by Mikayla Moerler, and Wantagh (11-5), which defeated Bethpage twice this season, poses a strong lineup, led by Emily Van O’Linda at shortstop.

5. The state champions are back

East Meadow, the defending Class AA state champions, has continued where it left off last season, only losing one Nassau AA-I game all season. The Jets finished 13-1 in the conference, led by the powerful bat and right arm of Christina Loeffler and the do-it-all shortstop Jenna Laird at the top of the order. With other experienced players such as Julianna Sanzone, Amy Mallah and Sam Reyes forming a potent lineup, the Jets should be considered the favorites to represent Nassau this year.

6. Watch out for the Chiefs

With one of the strongest lineups top to bottom on Long Island, the Chiefs have the ability to put up monster numbers regardless of their opponent. Finishing the year 10-4 in Nassau AA-I, Massapequa was the only conference team to defeat East Meadow this year, an 8-4 win April 11. The Chiefs lost three of their final four games of the regular season, but with the production of hitters such as Jenna DeFina, Jess Grillo, Francesca Cuttitta, Olivia Howes and the rest of the Chiefs lineup, they’ll be a fun team to keep an eye on the next few weeks.

7. Baldwin looking to seize its moment

The Bruins have been working toward returning to Nassau AA-I for years now, and with a trio of Alex Burns in centerfield, Yaya Spencer both in the circle and her presence in the lineup and catcher Juliet Bernstein, this could be their season to strike. After dominating Nassau AA-II last season, Baldwin finished this year 8-6 in AA-I, winning six of their final seven games.

8. Don’t count out…

Oceanside, finishing 5-9 in Nassau AA-I, stumbled against the top three teams in the conference but has a young, eager team willing to surprise teams in the playoffs, led by Emily Seaver and Catherine Stanford.

Long Beach, which reached the Nassau AA-I championship last season, graduated strong talent last season, but could be in play for another deep run after finishing the season 4-10 in the conference.

9. Keep an eye on Nassau AA-II

Even though the Nassau County conferences are power ranked before the season, that doesn’t mean all the talent lies in the top conference. Calhoun, finishing the season 12-3, lost to East Meadow by two runs and Massapequa by one -- its only other loss coming to Farmingdale, which it later defeated. With a combination of experience -- led by senior outfiedlers Kayla Pilotti ande Jennifer Imhof -- and youthful talented pitchers such as sophomore Lindsay Roman and freshman Meghan Vecchione, the Colts have proven capable of knocking off any team in the county.

Farmingdale, which finished second in AA-II at 11-4, has only lost to East Meadow, Massapequa, Baldwin and once to Calhoun. Led by the arm and bat of Christina Hassett along with hitters like Cameron Stamm, Jax Gregorovic and Gianna Ventiere, the Dalers look to shock the county.

Port Washington’s sister trio of Ashlynn, Kailey and Maddie Gallagher have led Port Washington to an 8-7 lineup, looking to turn the bracket upside-down once the postseason begins.

10. The schedule

Wednesday’s first-round games

Class AA

No. 12 Herricks at No. 5 Long Beach (Winner plays at No. 4 Oceanside Friday)

No. 11 Syosset at No. 6 Calhoun (Winner plays at No. 3 Baldwin Friday)

No. 10 Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK at No. 7 Farmingdale (Winner plays at No. 2 Massapequa Friday)

No. 9 Hicksville at No. 8 Port Washington (Winner plays at No. 1 East Meadow Friday)

Class A

Winner of No. 17 Valley Stream South/Hewlett at. No. 1 MacArthur

Winner of No. 18 Elmont/No. 15 Lynbrook at No. 2 Carey

No. 14 Locust Valley at No. 3 Bellmore JFK

No. 13 Wantagh at No. 4 Mepham

No. 12 Bethpage at No. 5 Island Trees

No. 11 South Side at No. 6 Division

No. 10 New Hyde Park at No. 7 Seaford

No. 9 Plainedge at No. 8 Clarke

Class B

Best 2-of-3 semifinals starting May 14

No. 4 Malverne at No. 1 Wheatley

No. 3 Carle Place at No. 2 Oyster Bay

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