Rye Neck Softball
By Mitch Silver
Section 1’s winningest coach of all time has done it again. Joan Spedafino, in her 32nd year at the helm, has another title contender at Rye Neck. The Panthers spent the last couple of weeks winning games in every way imaginable — with overwhelming pitching, timely hitting, and airtight defense. Even the lone blemish on their record, a 3-2 loss to Valhalla, was to the Sections’ other perennial powerhouse and the No. 14 team in New York State’s Class B. They’ll meet again.
But first, lets talk about the wins. The Panthers crushed Haldane 11-1 April 20 on an Olivia Dunne one-hitter. She struck out 16 batters while Alycia Rodriquez drove in three runs. Alana Proudian went 3-for-4 and drove in two more.
Four days later Dunne was back at it, shutting out cross-town rival Rye on 12 Ks while allowing two hits. They might still be playing had not catcher Sam Yannuzzi blasted a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh for the game’s only run.
Coach Sped and the girls knew Valhalla was going to be tough when they faced the Vikings 48 hours later. The Vikes won four straight Sectional titles before the Panthers snapped that streak in 2015, and the games between the two are always a battle. Dunne struck out four and went 3-for-4 at the plate, but Julianna Abonndola nicked her for the winning RBI.
Rye Neck returned to the winning path with a big 8-0 victory May 1 over their Class B rival Blind Brook. Alycia Rodriguez took the ball and struck out 11 while yielding a single hit. Rodriguez also tripled and drove in two runs while Proudian went 4-for-4 with an RBI. What made the victory especially sweet is the way Rodriguez shut down the Trojans’ Julia Bucci.
Seven days earlier, Bucci entered the New York State Public High School Athletic Association record books by hitting three home runs and driving in 12 RBIs in the team’s 31-0 (yes, 31-0) rout of Palisade Prep. The junior finished the week going 7-for-12 at the plate. But Rodriguez cooled her off pretty convincingly.
The locals, now ranked No. 16 in New York State’s Class B, played at Keio and Edgemont post-press time before returning home today to return the favor and host Edgemont. Game time is 4:15. Tomorrow sees the Rye Neck nine travel to Pelham for the Pelicans’ tournament that starts at 4 at Glover Field.