By Mitch Silver
It’s been a typical couple of weeks for Rye Neck Softball. Head Coach Joan Spedafino won her 500th game, cementing her position as Westchester’s winningest coach of all time. Senior Olivia Dunne struck out her 500th career batter in a 17-1 victory over Blind Brook, earning the title of Con Ed Athlete of the Week. And the Panthers maintained their position atop Class B in Section 1 by following a 16-0 shellacking of Irvington with a 3-0 shutout of Hastings.
Maybe this team has a chip on its shoulder. The Panthers lost their last game of 2017 to Valhalla in the Sectional finals. Then they dropped their first game of 2018, by a score of 2-1, to current Class C leader Pawling a month ago in their home opener. It’s been eons since Rye Neck suffered a two-game losing streak, and they look bound and determined not to let it happen again.
Dunne has gone 5-0 since that Pawling game, allowing just seven walks while striking out 72 on the season for a 1.29 ERA. She’s committed to play softball for the University of Chicago, a school that recruited her for her bat as well as her arm (and smarts). Through last weekend, the all-League, all-Section, all-State star is batting .321 with two home runs, two triples, and 11 RBI.
There are no weaknesses up and down the rest of the lineup. Senior Alycia Rodriquez plays first base when she isn’t pitching in the games Dunne doesn’t start. Sam Yannuzzi is an all-star in her own right behind the plate, and seniors Marissa Santoli, 2B; Alexa Garcia, SS; Alana Proudian, 3B; and Jessica Santoli, CF, bring veteran strength in the field and at the plate. Jaime Strazza, LF; Stephanie Santoli, IF; and Carissa Pecchia, IF all logged a lot of innings a year ago and look ready for the playoff push.
With 503 wins under her belt, Head Coach Joan Spedafino and her co-Coach (and husband) Frank Spedafino had the team hitting on all cylinders going into their clash with Valhalla, the team that beat them for last year’s championship, post-press time yesterday.
Next up, the Panthers host Woodlands tomorrow at 1.
Jessica Santoli(33) drives in Olivia Dunne, one of 16 runs against Irvington.
Coach Joan Spedafinosignals Olivia Dunne to slide into third as another run scores against Irvington.