Friday, April 17, 2009

2009 high school softball preview

Shenendehowa's Mandy Ferro prepares to release the ball during a 2008 game at Colonie High School. (Tom Killips - The Record)

Large schools

1. Shenendehowa – Mandy Ferro, the Lady Plainsmen’s fireballing, Siena-bound pitcher, returns for her senior season and looks to lead Shenendehowa to yet another Section II Class AA title. She was 20-2, struck out 206 batters and posted a 0.60 ERA in 2008 and earned Suburban Council MVP honors. The team will need to retool the lineup upon the graduation of Barb Shea and Lauren Lawler.
2. Troy – The Flying Horses have won three straight Big 10 regular season titles and they’re looking to break through in the Section II Class AA tournament by scheduling a bunch of Suburban Council teams for non-league games. First-year head coach Casey Halloran, a former Columbia High and University at Albany star pitcher, will manage a talented lineup that features senior center fielder Shannon Jones, who will play her college ball at Siena. Her cousin Emily Jones, the Flying Horses’ backstop, will catch talented young pitchers Liz Belleville and Julie Brinkman.
3. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake – Spartans pitcher Emily Ostrom missed last season because of her injured knee and Katie Filak did well filling her shoes in the pitcher’s circle. Now that both are healthy, Burnt Hills has a deadly one-two pitching punch and should be able to stay in nearly any game. Leanne Merchant is one of the area’s top hitters and figures to drive in a lot of runs for the Spartans, who advanced to the Section II Class A title game against South Glens Falls last season.
4. Lansingburgh – The defending Colonial Council champions return 2008 MVP Erin Glikes in the pitcher’s circle, but the Knights have a few holes to fill in the lineup if they hope to repeat in 2009. Amanda Lupi and Molly McDonough graduated, but Lansingburgh returns a solid core of players in shortstop Sarah Cipperly, outfielder Kayla Cole and catcher Meg Volz.
5. Columbia – The Blue Devils lost only one senior from 2008 – pitcher and first baseman Dana Rizzo – and return plenty of offensive weapons in third baseman Hilary Faas and Jenna Servidone. Sam Chevalier will also provide a veteran presence for Columbia.
6. Colonie – Jamie Cordell struck out 59 hitters in 51 innings last season and along with Michelle Probst, make a nice pitching duo for the Garnet Raiders. First baseman Natalie Triano, who drove in 13 runs last season, will be the biggest returning bat.
7. Niskayuna – The Silver Warriors return Lauren Giglio and Rachel Annello in the pitcher’s circle and also feature one of the Suburban Council’s best lineups with Meghan Price and Emily and Molly O’Donnell in the infield.
8. Catholic Central – The Crusaders lost pitcher Nikki Hendrick to graduation – she’s attending Alfred State – but junior Amanda Case at shortstop and sophomore Amanda LaPlante at second base return as a strong double play combination. Catholic High upset Lansingburgh in last year’s Uncle Sam Tournament, snapping the Knights perfect season in the process. If the Crusaders can solidify their pitching situation, the bats and their defense will keep them in contention for a Big 10 title.
9. Saratoga Springs – Catcher Kaci Madden leads eight returning starters in the Spa City. Pitchers Alyson Onyon and Krista Robarge, who is returning from a series of injuries, could pose a dual threat for hitters in the Suburban Council.
10. Holy Names – Lauren Walsh did a fantastic job in the pitcher’s circle as a freshman in the Colonial Council, a league that saw Lansingburgh finish with only one league defeat and two teams (Cohoes and Mechanicville) advance to the New York State Final Four. She’ll be back with another year of experience under her belt but Holy Names will dearly miss graduated catcher Gaby Elsbree, who was one of the most feared hitters in Section II during her reign behind the plate.

The Record's 2009 preseason dream team

Large schools

P Erin Glikes, Sr., Lansingburgh
P Mandy Ferro, Sr., Shenendehowa
P Rachel Annello, So., Niskayuna
P Alyson Onyon, Jr., Saratoga Springs
P Julie Brinkman, Fr., Troy

C Meg Volz, So., Lansingburgh
1b Natalie Triano, Sr., Colonie
2b Amanda LaPlante, So., Catholic Central
3b Hillary Faas, Jr., Columbia
ss Amanda Case, Jr., Catholic Central
of Shannon Jones, Sr., Troy
of Jena Servidone, Jr., Columbia
of Kayla Cole, Jr., Lansingburgh
dp Leanne Merchant, Sr., Burnt Hills

Mechanicville sophomore Anna Arceneaux deals during Saturday's Colonial Council victory over Cohoes. (Mike McMahon - The Record)

Small schools

1. Mechanicville – The Red Raiders were state champions at the Class C level in 2008 and they’ll try to repeat, this time as a Class B school. Anna Arceneaux was lights out in the circle as a freshman, winning 20 games. Third baseman Alysa Russell, a freshman is also part of Mechanicville’s youth movement.
2. Schuylerville – Bridgette Plummer is perhaps the hardest hitting first baseman in Section II and Katie Gallagher already owns a no-hitter this season, meaning the Black Horses are poised to stake their claim to the top of the Wasaren League after a few years of Hoosic Valley dominance.
3. Hoosick Falls – Freshman pitcher Rachel Quackenbush showed flashes of brilliance last year and has blossomed on the big stage already in 2009, hurling two near perfect games in consecutive days last week. She’ll be baffling Wasaren League batters all season and makes the Panthers an early favorite in the Class CC bracket.
4. Waterford-Halfmoon – Reigning Central Hudson Valley MVP Jamie Van Bramer will move to shortstop for her senior season and she is five RBI shy of 100 in her varsity career. She hit nine home runs, drove in 41 runs and slugged 1.000 as a junior.
Senior pitcher Katie Cahrenger is five strikeouts shy of 500 for her career and she was 15-4 a year ago, leading the Lady Fordians to a share of the CHVL title. The talent and experience is there for Waterford to make a push for an outright league title and a run in the Section II postseason tournament.
5. Ichabod Crane – The frontrunners in the Patroon Conference were undefeated in the Patroon Conference in 2008 and freshman pitcher Jessica Van Alphen, a newcomer to the varsity squad, has been impressive in early season action.
6. Hoosic Valley – Carlee Chapko takes over in the pitcher’s circle for Jen Mineau, who was a once in a generation player for the Indians over the past few seasons. The Indians have plenty of experience but they’ll need to find a way to score runs against some of the excellent pitchers elsewhere in the Wasaren League.
7. Cobleskill-Richmondville – Junior pitcher Sarah Harrison is one of the top returning hurlers in the Colonial Council and looks to lead the Lady Bulldogs to an improvement on their 8-8 league record in 2008.
8. Tamarac – Sam Fitzgerald takes the reigns at Tamarac after spending 11 seasons as the varsity head coach in Schuylerville. Erica Derby and Kara Ryan are the Bengals’ returning leaders, but four freshman and two sophomores join the starting ranks and form a young pitching rotation.
9. Cohoes – The Tigers lost a number of players from last year’s New York State Final Four team, but Mary Kellogg figures to be a dual threat this season in Cohoes as a pitcher and outfielder. She was one of the best defensive outfielders in the Colonial Council – if not Section II – as a junior and has taken on duties in the pitching circle following the gradation of Courtney Galuski.
10. Taconic Hills - Aleshia Link will be a big strikeout pitcher for the Titans this season as they try to chase the Riders of Ichabod Crane in the Patroon Conference.

The Record's 2009 preseason dream team

Small schools

P Anna Arceneaux, So., Mechanicville
P Mikayla Wells, Jr., Schuylerville
P Rachel Quackenbush, Fr., Hoosick Falls
P Maddie Skellie, Sr., Greenwich
P Katie Cahrenger, Sr., Waterford-Halfmoon

C Brittany Thivierge, Sr., Schuylerville
1b Bridgette Plummer, Sr., Schuylerville
2b Taryn Little, Sr., Granville
3b Alysa Russell, Fr., Mechanicville
ss Sam Anderson, Sr., Hoosic Valley
of Mary Kellogg, Sr., Cohoes
of Eileen Farrell, Sr., Hoosic Valley
of Abby Maiello, Fr., Mechanicville
dp Jamie VanBramer, Sr., Waterford-Halfmoon

2009 high school softball games to watch
Fri., April 17 – Colonie at Troy, 11 a.m.
Fri., April 17 – Lansingburgh Tournament (Averill Park, Hoosick Falls, Rensselaer), 2:30 p.m.
Thurs., April 23 – Ichabod Crane at Rensselaer, 4 p.m.
Fri., April 24 – Burnt Hills at Saratoga Springs, 4 p.m.
Mon., April 27 – Mechanicville at Lansingburgh, 4 p.m.
Fri., May 1 – Schuylerville at Hoosick Falls, 4:15 p.m.
Sat., May 2 – Uncle Sam Tournament at Knickerbacker Park, 4:45 p.m.
Mon., May 4 – Ichabod Crane at Maple Hill, 4 p.m.
Mon., May 4 – Catholic Central at Troy, 415 p.m.
Tues., May 5 – Hoosic Valley at Hoosick Falls, 4:15 p.m.
Tues., May 5 – Tamarac at Schuylerville, 4:15 p.m.
Weds., May 13 – Schenectady at Catholic Central, 4 p.m.
Mon., May 18 – Lansingburgh at Mechanicville, 4 p.m.
Weds., May 20 – Colonie at Columbia, 4 p.m.
Thurs., May 21 – Shenendehowa at Burnt Hills, 4 p.m.



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