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Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

White Plains can’t fix its curse in 2-1 Class AAA title loss to North Rock

By Vaseline May27,2024

Somers falls in final; Hen Hud, Valhalla Dip in the semi-finals

By Ben Gurwitch
White Plains 2B Ava Galligani tags down North Rockland runner in Tigers’ 2-1 extra-inning Section 1 Class AAA title loss Saturday.

THIELLS –The White Plains Tigers’ 2024 softball season ended in the same heartbreaking way as their previous two seasons. White Plains had a great season, but they were once again unable to top the North Rockland Red Raiders in the Section 1 Class AAA finals.

The Red Raiders ran away from the Tigers in the bottom of the ninth, winning 2-1. It was an eerily similar game to the 2022 sectional final, when the Red Raiders won 2-1 on an eighth-inning walkoff. White Plains softball has now fallen just short of a section title in three straight seasons. A third consecutive one-run loss will leave a terrible taste in the Tigers’ mouths, especially after they led 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth inning.

While it can be easy to focus on the frustrating end result, the Tigers’ success this year should not be overlooked.

Entering the playoffs, a loss to the Red Raiders was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect record. White Plains finished the regular season 19-1, with a 10-0 league record. They earned the second seed for Class AAA.

White Plains’ Ava Ritterman gets in safely with a first-inning run, the Tigers’ lone holdout in their 2-1 Section Class AAA title loss to defending champion North Rockland Saturday.

The Tigers were led by freshman Alexis Tighe. Tighe’s freshman status does not reflect her role or the respect she has earned on the team. Tighe has been an important part of the varsity team since her arrival

was in high school. As an eighth-grader, Tighe gave up three runs in 34 innings. Those statistics were more than impressive on their own, but given her age, they were hard to believe. The same can be said about Tighe’s eye-popping pitching numbers this season. In more than 106 innings, she struckout 227 batters and gave up only 17 earned runs, giving her a minuscule ERA of 1.12. Tighe has 16 of the Tigers’ 21 wins. She was essential to their success.

Coach Chris Rowan explained his thoughts and the confidence he has in Tighe: “She is my Bulldog. She just comes out and always delivers. She has a lot of confidence in herself. She’s just a real bulldog. I have every confidence in that girl.”

An 11-0 win over Mamaroneck set up White Plains for a semifinal matchup against the John Jay Wolves. Tighe’s ‘Bulldog’ status was on display in the John Jay game. She completely dominated the first two batters of the match. However, after a line drive of two hit off Tighe’s pitching hand, White Plains thought the worst, but a lengthy conversation with Coach Rowan and the team trainer kept Tighe in the game. Although she was her usual dominant self, it was clear that she was not at full strength. Tighe spoke about the injury: “after I got hit in the hand it messed up a few of my throws, but I think I fought through it excellently”

Tighe said some of her most effective throws were ruled out because of the injury. However, she showed impressive toughness and cleverness. She worked through an injury that limited her options and ability to give hitters a different look. The freshmen’s poise was fun to watch. The big moment didn’t dawn on her, even after she got scared. In just a second year on varsity, Tighe has a great sense of balance and control on the mound.

Although the game was later ruled ineligible, Somers C Katherine Papa defends her turf in Tuskers’ 5-0 Section 1 Class AA title loss to Harrison Saturday in North Rockland.

She took over leadership of the team. It was clear she was trying to defuse tensions and treat the game as coach Rowan hoped, “like it was any other game.” Tighe understands that she plays a key role in the team. She tries to make the most of her role. She said: “My role is to help everyone else and do my bit. I try to let everyone loose and laugh as much as possible. I also try to take control in the circle so as not to make my teammates nervous.”

No matter the situation, Tighe laughed and joked with her teammates. Such a small action to calm her team down is exactly what a leader does. It speaks volumes about her character.

Tighe has also clearly taken steps to calm herself down. Usually, whenever she threw two balls, she would take a break and walk a few yards off the mound and gather herself for her next throw. She said: ‘I tended to get stuck in my own head and not be able to throw where I wanted. When I throw several balls in a row, I try to gather myself and put myself together again, because if I don’t, things will continue to go bad.”

Tighe’s knowledge of herself and how to calm herself down at such a young age is remarkable. She clearly has a strong head on her shoulders.

Tighe battled and pitched a complete game shutout against John Jay. She recorded 10 strikeouts, while allowing only three hits.

Somers IF Alyssa Pirraglia retires Harrison runner in Tuskers’ 5-0 Section 1 Class AA title loss to Huskies Saturday at North Rockland High.

White Plains did enough to give Tighe the running support she needed. It was a comfortable 4-0 victory. Going into the final, the Tigers still had to give up a point in the play-offs.

Coach Rowan and Tighe knew they had a tough task ahead of them. Rowan said, “It will be a good game, a tough game, with North Rockland being two-time returning champions, hopefully we can turn it around.”

Tighe added: “It also comes down to who can take the fight. It will depend on every little thing.”

Tighe was perfect. In the tightly contested game it came down to the little things. Unfortunately for White Plains, the Red Raiders did the little things. They had several successful bunts, made many great plays in the field and executed aggressive baserunning.

The Tigers wanted revenge. Their hunger showed itself early. They struck in the first inning with an RBI single by Ava Galligini. The bats then went quiet as Red Raiders pitcher Tara Murphy retired the next 15 batters. The Tigers came agonizingly close to a 3-0 lead later in the match, but Emily Anastacio’s well-hit ball narrowly went wrong. Murphy was able to eliminate her and in the bottom of that sixth inning, the Raiders got on the board with an RBI single.

The Tigers fought. Coach Rowan had a lot to be happy about. Rowan discussed with his team the most important point he has been working on. He said, ‘Energy. Our girls are very quiet. Once they get going and start cheering, everything changes. That’s a big piece that we want to continue to work on.”

Tusker teammates Julia Peanamanda and Katherine Papa share a happy moment after a caught-stealing play in Somer’s 5-0 Section 1 Class AA title loss to Harrison Saturday in North Rockland.

The Tigers’ energy was great throughout the game. The bench roared when a North Rockland baserunner was caught stealing to end the seventh. The Tigers stayed loud throughout the pressure-filled overtime.

Tighe’s growth as a pitcher is impressive and a concern for her opponents over the next three years. When she faced North Rockland earlier this year, she gave up six earned runs on 11 hits and six walks. In the final, she pitched into the ninth inning and allowed only one earned run. Tighe struck out eleven, while walking only one. She was dominant the entire match. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough for her and her Tiger teammates against a very formidable, well-managed North Rockland team.

CLASS AA

Somers softball had the best Section 1 finish in their program’s history. The Tuskers (14-6) had an impressive, historic playoff run, defeating No. 1 Clarkstown South en route to their first finals appearance.

Ellie Walsh, Caitlin Fitts and Katherine Papa each went 1 for 3, while P Emily Boyle (4 ER, 5H, 4BB, 2K) kept the Tuskers within striking distance.

Somers reached the semifinals, beating Clarkstown North in the quarterfinals 12-1. It was a team effort against North. All nine starters reached base safely. In Somers’ first-ever semifinal, it was done thanks to late-game heroics. Fitts took plenty of time to hit her first-ever varsity home run, a three-run blast that put Somers ahead. The lead hung as Somers held on to win 6-4. Clarkstown South was 17-2 before Somers dethroned them on their home court.

Somers P Emily Boyle, just a freshman, provides pitch in Tuskers’ 5-0 Section 1 Class AA title loss to Harrison, who won his first section title and denied the Tuskers their first.

Although the final against Harrison did not go in Somers’ favor, coach Teresa Ricci’s team has a lot to be proud of, but they were not satisfied with that and pushed on to ensure the best run in program history.

CLASS A, FIRST CLASS

Hen Hud softball won two games handily before falling to one seed Tappan Zee in the semifinals. Hen Hud conceded just one point in each match as he scored double figures en route to the semi-finals. Pearl River won the Class A playoffs, shutting out Tappan Zee 2-0 in the final.

CLASS B

Valhalla softball defeated Dobbs Ferry in the quarterfinals, setting them up for a tough matchup against the top-seeded Albertus Magnus Falcons. Albertus Magnus was too much for Valhalla and defeated them 9-0 in the semi-finals. The Falcons then defeated Rye Neck 13-0 to complete their impressive run to the Class B title.

DAVID TABER PHOTOS

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