The Nassau and CHSAA playoffs are set to begin this week. Here at 10 things to watch over the run for a county, Long Island and state championship.
1. East Meadow looks for a three-peat
The Jets have been the class of Class AA the past three years, and despite a slower start by their standards, they appear to be playing their best softball of the season entering the playoffs. No. 1 East Meadow won its last five games, scoring at least nine runs each game. Led by Jenna Laird, last year’s Newsday Nassau Player of the Year, and a deep lineup featuring Julianna Sanzone, Amy Mallah, Amanda Thompson and Isabella Shepherd, the Jets look poised for another deep playoff run, looking to return to the state semifinals for the third straight season.
2. Watch out for Oceanside
After losing four of their first six games of the season, the Sailors enter the most important part of the season performing their best. No. 2 Oceanside, with a deep offense including Emily Seaver, Catherine Stanford, Courtney Murphy and Elena Rubino, along with the pitching of Hallie Neufeld, has won its final five games of the season. Oceanside last won the Nassau AA championship in 2015.
3. Nassau AA-II schools creating havoc
Despite playing in Nassau AA-II, Hicksville and Long Beach have made the most of their opportunities against the Nassau AA-I schools. Both schools have a winning record against Nassau AA-I in crossover games, and split matchups against each other during the season. No. 6 Hicksville features a strong lineup with Ashley Ulmschneider, Ashley Pierce, Gabby Smith and Jessica Kwasnik with Ashley Badarraco in the circle. No. 7 Long Beach, featuring home-run hitters in Katie Frisch (nine), Elaina Kassap (five) and Nicole Grandinetti (four), will be no easy matchup either.
4. But don’t count out…
No. 3 Massapequa: The Chiefs have won four of their last five games, with the only loss in that span coming to East Meadow. With a lineup featuring Ellie Egher and Olivia Howes and a compliment of different pitchers to turn to in Julia Ruocchio, Julia Rodriguez and Kim Westenberg, who each won at least three games this year, Massapequa will create tough matchups throughout the playoffs.
No. 4 Farmingdale: With the pitching and hitting of Christina Hassett, the Dalers won’t be an easy matchup for any team. The strong lineup also features Jax Gregorovic and Gianna Ventiere.
No. 5 Port Washington: With Maddie Gallagher and her nine home runs leading the way at shortstop, she is a player capable of keeping a team’s season going for weeks.
5. Mepham looking to go back-to-back
The defending Nassau A champion Pirates picked up right where they left off last year, earning the top seed entering the playoffs. Led by Brianna Morse, a second-team All-Long Island selection last year, and a lineup featuring Jenna Giliberti, Alanna Morse with a deep pitching staff of Kayla Bourquin, Emma Greiner and Kayleigh Roth all with at least four wins, Mepham could be a few weeks away from playing in its second straight Long Island Class A championship.
6. MacArthur with another strong team
The Generals are consistently toward the top and in the mix. Led by Jessica Mauro, who has replaced and pitched up to the standard set by Jessica Budrewicz, a two-time Newsday All-Long Island selection, MacArthur enters the playoffs as the No. 2 seed. The Generals' deep lineup features Lisa Fabig, Kayla Myles and Annie Zielinski.
7. Nassau A pitchers ready for perform
Nassau A is filled with tremendous pitchers this spring, which in softball can carry a team to a championship. Some to watch out for now include:
Alyssa Weinberg, Division: She won nine games and added three home runs at the plate. She and Jordyn Pasqueralli form a strong 1-2 duo in the circle.
Anna Butler, Seaford: A powerful pitcher won six games, recorded a save, and can deliver at the plate also.
Lindsay Roman, Calhoun: One of the top pitchers in the county, she helped lead Calhoun to the Nassau AA final last year before the Colts dropped to Class A this season.
Jaclyn Schemmer, Carey: A proven big-game pitcher, she helped lead the Seahawks to the Nassau A final this year, and will be a key in the circle if Carey makes another deep postseason run.
Shayna DeRosa, Wantagh: She won 12 games for Wantagh, which went 17-0.
8. Nassau A players/teams to watch
Dani Roselli, Division: She hit seven home runs this season and set the school record for varsity home runs (30), according to coach Dave Radtke. Part of a deep lineup, including Haley Giles, Weinberg, Jordyn Pasqueralli and Haley Delaney.
Heather Berberich, Calhoun: A four-year varsity shortstop, she had two home runs and is a key feature in the Colts lineup. She and Taylor Baumann provide a strong senior pairing.
Julie Hilcken, Seaford: Focal point in the lineup and provides senior experience for Seaford.
Emily Van O’Linda, Wantagh: Experienced shortstop had four home runs for undefeated Wantagh. Angelina Bendetti also had four home runs for the Warriors.
No. 7 Bellmore JFK and No. 8 Clarke each had strong seasons, with victories over Nassau A-I teams in crossover contests, and could serve as darkhorses in a deep Nassau A bracket.
9. The Class B bracket
East Rockaway, last season’s Long Island Class C champions, enters the Class B playoffs as the top seed, led by the pitching and hitting of Emily Chelius. Oyster Bay, last year’s Nassau B champions, enter as the No. 2 seed, led by Mikaela Cornelious and Kristen Aasheim.
10. CHSAA Preview
Kellenberg, which lost in the CHSAA championship last year, has been the class of the league all season, losing only one game to St. John the Baptist. Led by one of the deepest lineups on Long Island, featuring Julia Tarantino, Stephanie Conrade, Julia Piotrowski, Juliana Rigano and Katie Hand, Kellenberg scores in bunches. The Firebirds also have a strong pitching combination in Tarantino and Lindsey Raimondi as they look for their first title since 2014.
St. Anthony’s, winners of the last two CHSAA championships, has dealt with injuries throughout the season, but will have Alyssa Seidler, an All-Long Island selection last year, back to hit -- and perhaps pitch some innings. Erin Steinert has led the Friars both in the circle and at the plate, along with a lineup featuring Taylor Zatyk, Jessica Roberts and Kacie Dilworth.
St. John the Baptist, the only team in the league with a win over Kellenberg, is led by Isabelle Rosado and Alexa Sacripante, along with Claire O'Shaughnessey and Victoria Kenney in the circle.
Opening round schedule
Nassau AA quarterfinals on Friday
No. 8 Freeport at No. 1 East Meadow
No. 5 Port Washington at No. 4 Farmingdale
No. 6 Hicksville at No. 3 Massapequa
No. 7 Long Beach at No. 2 Oceanside
Nassau A opening round on Thursday
Winner of No. 17 Valley Stream South/No. 16 Herricks at No. 1 Mepham
No. 9 Bethpage at No. 8 Clarke
No. 12 Wantagh at No. 5 Seaford
No. 13 New Hyde Park at No. 4 Calhoun
No. 14 Island Trees at No. 3 Division
No. 11 South Side at No. 6 Carey
No. 10 Plainedge at No. 7 Bellmore JFK
Winner of No. 18 West Hempstead/No. 15 Locust Valley at No. 2 MacArthur
Nassau B semifinals, best of 3, beginning May 20
Winner of No. 5 Cold Spring Harbor/No. 4 Carle Place at No. 1 East Rockaway
Winner of No. 6 Malverne/No. 3 Wheatley at No. 2 Oyster Bay