All good things must come to an end … sometimes, as T.S. Eliot put it, “not with a bang but a whimper.”
By Mitch Silver
All good things must come to an end … sometimes, as T.S. Eliot put it, “not with a bang but a whimper.” If there was a bang Saturday afternoon, it was the sound of the Valhalla Vikings slamming the door on Rye Neck’s softball title hopes, winning their sixth crown in a row by 8-0.
In 2012, the 19-3 Panthers lost to Valhalla 2-1 in the Class B softball finals. In 2013, 14-7 Rye Neck faltered against Ardsley in the semifinals before they could seek revenge against the Vikings. This year, the 18-5 locals clawed their way back to the finals at North Rockland High School, whitewashing both Hastings (15-0) and Dobbs Ferry (9-0) before beating North Salem in a come-from-behind 6-4 thriller in the semifinals.
Against North Salem, all-Section standout pitcher Diana King didn’t bring her A game, but B+ from the strikeout queen — fresh from a no-hitter and one-hitter in the first two playoff games — was good enough. It helped that she was backed by timely hitting from first-sacker Shannon Ligouri.
Down 3-1 in the bottom of the 4th, King lashed a liner over the centerfielder’s head and then legged it into a triple. One out later, Liguori smacked a liner to center, scoring King. Then, in the fifth, minutes after the Vikings (yes, more Vikings) knotted things at 4-4, King was given an intentional “unintentional” walk. Briana Cefaloni singled past second, sending King to third and bringing Ligouri up again.
Number 36 faked a squeeze bunt on the first pitch, allowing Cefaloni to take second as the catcher threw to third, trying to catch King off the base. On the next pitch, Ligouri whaled a drive over the centerfielder’s extended glove for two RBIs and the game.
The hitting star later said, “That fake bunt worked the way we hoped it would. Then I looked for something to drive them in. And I got it.”
Unfortunately, the softball gods weren’t with the Panthers in the title game. Catcher Sam Yannuzzi took a foul tip full on her right knee in the second inning and couldn’t continue, with Rosella Salanitro replacing her. Later in the inning, Valhalla’s Isabella Riguzzi drove in a run with a single off Cefaloni’s glove at short. A sac fly to right in the third made it 2-0. Then the roof caved in. A brace of triples made it 7-0 by the 4th inning, and a final unearned run made it 8-0.
Despite the loss, Coach Joan Spedafino’s squad produced a great season. And the good news is that Diana King is only a junior.