When pitcher Allie Stanya and her Babylon softball teammates walked off the field at South Glens Falls last season after a 1-0 loss to Depew (Buffalo) in the state Class B semifinal, they vowed to return.
“I’m so motivated,” Stanya said. “During school, I’m just thinking about the game. I’m always just thinking about softball and how I can help my team and how we can actually do this.”
The road to redemption begins Thursday at Hofstra, as Babylon plays Oyster Bay in the Long Island Class B championship at 6:30 p.m., shortly after the conclusion of the Class C final of Mercy vs. East Rockaway, starting at 3:30 p.m. On Friday, Mount Sinai plays Carey in the Long Island Class A championship at Hofstra at 3:30 p.m., followed by the Class AA final between Longwood and defending state champion East Meadow, scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
The Panthers have been waiting for this moment all season, after graduating only one senior from last year’s roster. The Babylon seniors want to cement their place in school history.
“I think we all have States in the back of our mind,” senior catcher Molly Cummings said. “We’ve all been thinking about it. As much as you don’t want to jump the gun because you can’t take any team lightly, I think we definitely have unfinished business we need to take care of.”
Stanya, with a 1.12 ERA and 0.92 WHIP with 154 strikeouts in 94 innings this season, and Cummings, with a .507 batting average in her 116 lifetime games, have formed as formidable of a batterymate as you’ll find on Long Island the past few seasons. The two have been pitching and catching to each other since age 5, they said, leading to optimism for Babylon (16-5).
“Our chemistry is so strong, she can tell when I’m down or up,” Stanya said. “She’s always there for me and keeps me calm up there and if I had any other catcher, I don’t know. She just makes me the pitcher I am.”
Oyster Bay, which swept Wheatley in the Nassau B finals, enters its second Long Island Class B finals in the last three seasons, led by the hitting of Jamie and Lilly Galasso in the middle of the order. The Baymen (11-12) scored 30 runs in their two county championship games.
“They rise to the occasion really well and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” coach Victoria Wink said. “I have four seniors and I couldn’t be happier for them to continue their softball career these few weeks and I think we’re really excited to be here.”
In Class AA, East Meadow continues its quest toward back-to-back state championships, after the Jets defeated Binghamton, 1-0, in last year’s final.
With starting pitcher Christina Loeffler back in the circle and a lineup featuring Jenna Laird, Sam Reyes, Julianna Sanzone, Amy Mallah and Loeffler, East Meadow is 22-2 on the season. The seniors spoke with the underclassmen about how special last year’s state run was, as the run to the title starts with a matchup against Longwood.
“As a team, we’re looking to go big again,” Loeffler said, “and we want the younger girls to experience what we did last year. Honestly, we’re just trying to take it one game at a time, win one game at a time.”
Coach Stew Fritz has been impressed how the girls handled the pressures that come with being defending state champions. “It’s hard, people don’t get it, but I would never switch places,” Fritz said. “The pressure is a lot. We try to take it on us — the coaches. We try to let them relax before the games and we don’t put a lot of pressure on them, but they have a lot of pressure.”
Longwood, the Suffolk AA champions, had a 17-win turnaround from a 4-16 season in 2016 to 21-2 this year after a 2-1 victory over Half Hollow Hills West in the county final. Led by an experienced senior class, highlighted by pitcher Emily Koerick, middle infielder Gabby Vicidomini and catcher Molly Ryan, the Lions have changed how schools view Longwood softball.
“We are going into [the LI title game] the same way we go into every game: Focused,” Ryan said. “We are ready to do the job.”
“We were 4-16 two years ago and now we are here,” coach Joe Calarco said. “I’m just so proud of this team, and now we have a chance to play in the Long Island championship. It’s fantastic. We have a great opportunity in front of us.”
There’s a familiar team representing Suffolk in Class A, as Mount Sinai heads to its fourth-straight Long Island Class A championship after defeating Sayville twice in the county final. But the Mustangs (22-3) have yet to advance to a state semifinal, a streak they hope to snap Friday.
“This [LI championship] means the world to us now four years in a row.,” pitcher/first baseman Julia Golino said. “It’s our time to shine. We’ve lost three years in a row and now we want to show what we got.”
Led by Lové Drumgole at shortstop, Mount Sinai has one of the deepest lineups on Long Island, including Molly Birnstill, Emma Wimmer, Ilexa Skulnick and Golino. Golino and Wimmer have provided a one-two punch in the circle all season for a team one win away from a state semifinal.
But Carey (15-7) will provide a tough matchup, representing Nassau A after defeating Mepham in three games in the county final. Led by a strong defense and timely hitting from the likes of Gianna Castogliolo, Marissa Nicoletti, Francesca Cirone, Arianna Millan and Destiny Nardello and the pitching combination of Jaclyn Schemmer and Dana Romano, the Seahawks won’t make anything easy for Mt. Sinai.
In Class C, East Rockaway (16-4) is led by the strong pitching and hitting of Emily Chelius, who recorded all 16 of the Rocks’ victories, including six homers. Mercy (10-11) swept Southold in the Suffolk C final with two victories from Sarah Penny in the circle.
With John Boell