Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hoosick Falls softball seniors headed to Final Four

Saturday morning, the Hoosick Falls High School softball team (23-2) will face Section V champion Gananda (25-0) in a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C semifinal at Waterloo High School. Game time is 9 a.m.

Hoosick Falls' senior left fielder Marissa Davendonis takes a cut during last Friday's Section II Class CC/C playoff game against Duanesburg. Hoosick Falls won, 1-0. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

I stopped by Hoosick Falls' practice today before the Panthers head off to Waterloo Friday morning. The school will host a pep rally for the team and the elementary school students will give them a send-off before they board the bus.

In Friday's edition of The Record, we will have a story on the three softball seniors - Mel Mentiply, Marissa Davendonis and Jenna Priore - and how they have been a part of Hoosick Falls' magical 2009-10 athletic school year. For a video featuring those seniors, scroll down or subscribe to the Off The Record vodcast by clicking on the Uncle Sam logo to your right.

There are a ton of hyperlinks for more information in this post, so anytime you see something in red, feel free to take a brief detour.

Saturday, if we have space, there will be a separate story on just how head coach Charlie Weeden motivates his team with numbers...and with laughs.

Before we begin, here is an information box for Saturday's Final Four in Waterloo.

If you go: New York State Public High School Athletic Association Softball Final Four
Directions: Waterloo High School, 96 Stark Street, Waterloo, NY 13165. Take I-90 west to Exit 41. Follow Rte. 414 south for five miles. Turn right onto Balsey Road and follow for two miles. Turn left on Stark Street. School parking lot is on the left.
Tickets: $8
Class AA
Bay Shore (XI) vs. Clarence (VI) 11 a.m.
Cicero-North Syracuse (III) vs. North Rockland (I) 11 a.m.
Championship game 3 p.m.
Class A
South Glens Falls (II) vs. Pittsford-Mendon (V) 1:30 p.m.
Floral Park (VIII) vs. Pearl River (I) 1:30 p.m.
Championship game 5 p.m.
Class B
Mechanicville (II) vs. Chenango Valley (IV) 11 a.m.
Dobbs Ferry (I) vs. Olean (VI) 11 a.m.
Championship game 3:30 p.m.
Class C
Hoosick Falls (II) vs. Gananda (V) 9 a.m.
Rhinebeck (9) vs. South Lewis (III) 9 a.m.
Championship game 1:30 p.m.
Class D
Germantown (II) vs. Livingston Manor (IX) 9 a.m.
Bolivar-Richburg (V) vs. Afton (IV) 9 a.m.
Championship game 1:30 p.m.

Saturday's weather forecast in Waterloo: 50% chance of rain

There is plenty of parking around the school and on the north edge of the facility. Last year's event pretty much went off without a hitch, except a few showers at the end of Mechanicville's Class B championship game. Hopefully this year's event will be just as smooth and entertaining.

I hope to update the blog and possibly Tweet some scores as Hoosick Falls' and Mechanicville's games are going on. Be sure to check back here on Saturday for updates, pictures, stories, quotes and videos as soon as the games are over.

Hoosick Falls senior shortstop Jenna Priore rounds first base during last Friday's Section II Class CC/C playoff game. She will play softball at Nichols College next year.

Hoosick Falls' sophomore pitcher Rachel Quackenbush has posted some incredible numbers in 2010.

With a won-loss record of 19-2, Quackenbush has recorded 297 strikeouts in 153 innings pitched and allowed just five earned runs and five walks.

Her ERA is 0.23. She averages 1.94 strikeouts per inning and it's no wonder why many of the coaches in Section II call her hands-down the best pitcher in the area.

(Junior first baseman Katie Kovage went 4-0 in the circle for the Panthers this season, who are 23-2 overall).

Underclassmen certainly have been part of the story for the Panthers this year, who have just three seniors, all of whom start. Jenna Priore, the shortstop, will play softball at Nichols College next year. Marissa Davendonis (left field) and Mel Mentiply (right field) will play field hockey together at Utica College.

"I think everyone stepped up," Priore said. "We have Frankie (Pearson, a freshman) coming in and running for us and she’s made smart plays running. And then we have us seniors who have tried to take control. We also have sophomores and juniors who have also tried to take control. It’s everybody wanting it just as bad as everyone else."

Click here for the full New York State Class C bracket.

Hoosick Falls (23-2) faces Section V champion Gananda (25-0) Saturday at 9 a.m. in a New York State Class C semifinal. The victor faces the winner of the semifinal between Section IX’s Rhinebeck (17-6) and Section III’s South Lewis (18-5) in the title game at 1:30 p.m.

A season ago, Rhinebeck defeated Hoosick Falls, 1-0, in the semifinals en route to winning the state championship.

Hoosick Falls, making its second consecutive appearance in the New York State Final Four, won state titles in 1987 and 1988.

Section V champion Gananda (25-0) is appearing in the New York State Final Four for the first time in school history. Nicknamed the Blue Panthers, Gananda pounded out 16 hits in Tuesday’s 9-0 regional final victory over Section VI’s Westfield.

Section IX’s Rhinebeck (17-6) and Section III’s South Lewis (18-5) square off in the other Class C semifinal. Rhinebeck, the defending state champion, returns pitcher Megan Michie, who pitched a one-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Hoosick Falls in the 2009 semifinals. South Lewis’ junior third baseman Mackenzie Colwell has driven in 32 runs this season and is batting .486.

“It’s going to be heartbreak for somebody,” Weeden said. “Somebody has to lose in the semifinals and it will break their hearts. Last year, kids were crying about it and it’s going to happen. It should bother them, though. It bothered them last year when they lost.”

Mel Mentiply (left) and Marissa Davendonis (right) as well as Jenna Priore (below, right) chat with The Record after Thursday's brief indoor practice session. All three are making a second consecutive trip to the New York State softball Final Four. (Vidcaps by Will Montgomery). Click on the images for a full-size version.

With four Section II teams playing in the Final Four for the second straight year - three of them (Mechanicville, Hoosick Falls and Germantown) are back for more - it's no surprise that the players have become the biggest fans of the other Section II teams.

Priore traded text messages with the Germantown team when they met last year in Waterloo and they were back in touch Wednesday after both teams played games in Plattsburgh.

Mechanicville (23-2) will attempt to win a third straight New York State championship, a second straight in Class B. The Red Raiders have won eight regional championships since the 2000 season, a remarkable accomplishment. Mechanicville has won six state titles during that span.

Click here to see the full Class B bracket.

First up for the Red Raiders is Section IV champion Chenango Valley (17-6).

For a Chenango Valley All-Star story, click here.

Chenango junior pitcher Taylor Hendrickson has posted a 0.77 ERA, is 17-5 and has struck out 202 batters in 145 and 2.3 innings this season.

Dobbs Ferry (Section I, 23-2) and Olean (Section VI, 19-6) will clash in the other semifinal, which also starts at 11 a.m.

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