Hudson Valley Sports Report


Another Season Of Outstanding Teams And Players

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

High school softball in the Hudson Valley has become something of a given.

The sport is so good, the teams so talented, the players so amazing, that it’s almost a surprising disappointment if one of the schools doesn’t make it to Troy for the state championships.

Fortunately, 2018 was not one of those years as both Pine Plains and Minisink Valley reached the Final Four in their respective classes, and multiple players made the all-state team.

The efforts of those teams and players from around the Hudson Valley Sports Report coverage area is reflected in the 2018 HVSR Softball Dream Team.

HVSR covers 56 high schools in a five-county area, making this one of the most significant, comprehensive postseason all-star teams of any local media outlet.

The premise of the Dream Team is to build a squad from scratch, position by position, instead of just blithely putting together a position-less group that can result in an unbalanced team. Choosing the Dream Team is a very discriminating process and means making difficult choices in constructing an equitable team with a certain amount of players at each position. Ultimately, however, it produces one of the most selective postseason all-star teams in the area.

Last year, the HVSR Dream Team Co-Player of the Year was described by one rival coach as “maybe the toughest out in the state.”

Nothing changed from year to year.

After hitting .567 last year, the senior came back and hit .576 with three home runs, nine doubles, a triple and 35 runs batted in. So incredibly selective at the plate, Simmons walked 18 times and struck out just once.

All that added up to a second straight appearance in the New York State Class C championship game for the Bombers.

“Cat has been one of the most feared hitters in our area for the past three seasons,” Pine Plains coach Les Funk said. “She hits for average as well as being a long ball threat. Cat’s ability behind the plate has been the backbone of our defense.”

Cat Simmons

Adversity has nothing on Alayna Savaglio.

“I’m really good with keeping my composure in the circle and I actually like the feeling of being in a tough situation with a chance to get out of it,” the MV lefthander said. “I could say that pressure can sometimes be more an exhilarating feeling than a bad feeling. In those situations you learn so much about yourself, like mental toughness, and it takes a lot of mental toughness to be out there.”

Nobody was tougher, mentally or physically, than Savaglio. The senior led Minisink to the state Final Four, earned a berth on the first-team all-state squad in Class AA, and was virtually unhittable throughout the year – a 20-1 mark with 252 strikeouts and a microscopic 0.62 earned run average. In addition, she hit .403 with six home runs and 34 RBI.

Savaglio will be attending Division II Flagler College in Florida.

It’s hard enough to lead a team to the state championship game, which Funk did last year.
Going back-to-back? A phenomenal achievement.

Funk not only leveraged his returning talent this past season for another trip to the Class C title game, he brought along his young talent and by the end of the year had blended everybody together for a single-minded goal.

(In no particular order)
SHANNON BECKER, MAHOPAC – An unbelievable season, and this is just the beginning. Becker is only a freshman so start penciling in her name here for the next three seasons. Becker fired three no-hitters this season, including a perfect game, and struck out 254 batters in 128.2 innings – just about two every inning.

SAMANTHA RYAN, MONROE-WOODBURY – A third-team all-state selection, Ryan was practically unbeatable – in fact, she was outstanding in a 1-0 loss to Savaglio and Minisink in the sectional title game. Ryan finished with a 1.19 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 121 innings.

MEGAN SCHUMACHER, JOHN JAY – Schumacher went 9-2 with a 2.90 ERA as John Jay played one of the toughest schedules in the state. “She dominated some of the best teams, such as Shenendehowa and Mamaroneck,” Patriots coach Mike Crocco said. “She is a fierce competitor and plays best under pressure.” Schumacher, a fifth-team all-state selection, is headed to Hofstra to play her college ball.

ALEX McKENZIE, PINE PLAINS – The junior pitched the Bombers into the state Final Four with a 12-4 record, a 2.14 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 112 innings. At the plate, she batted .514. “Alex has been our most consistent hitter all season long,” Funk said. “She produced at the plate every game this year from opening game until the State Championship game. She was instrumental in getting our offense going in the No. 2 spot in the lineup.”

MADCHEN KNAUS, ROOSEVELT – How consistent and spot-on was Knaus? In fashioning a 15-4 record, including throwing all 17 innings over two games to win the MHAL Championship for the Presidents, Knaus had 10 walk-less games and gave up just 11 bases-on-balls the entire season. “Madchen has been on Varsity since 8thgrade and has worked her way up to being a team captain and utmost leader of this team,” FDR coach Kristi Coughlin said. “We would not have been the team we were without her on the mound. Her presence both on and off the field helped us stay calm during intense moments and was like a second coach with me for the team. One of the best athletes I have coached.”

TORI DECKER, RONDOUT VALLEY – It was a banner year for Decker and, thusly, the Ganders. Decker pitched to a 2.64 ERA and led Rondout to its first Section 9, Class B championship in 13 years. At the plate, she belted four home runs and drove in 27 runs while batting .371.

OLIVIA ZOELLER, PAWLING – A third-team all-state pick, Zoeller went 8-3 with 133 strikeouts in 72.2 innings pitched and a 0.78 ERA. At the plate, she hit .500 and drove in 27 runs. “Olivia is one of those rare softball players that excels in every aspect of the game. She is a great pitcher with excellent control,” Tigers coach John Hodge said. “She also has great knowledge of the game.” That seems right since Zoeller graduated fifth in her class. She will play softball at Clarkson University and leaves Pawling as the all-time leader in hits, runs and RBI.

CORINNE BADGER, ARLINGTON – Great season for the junior, who batted .453 with six home runs, eight doubles, 35 RBI and 31 runs scored. “Corinne works extremely hard at her skills, both with the team and on her own,” Admirals coach Dave Ballantyne said.

ALEX WATERS, PUTNAM VALLEY – Just a sophomore, Waters had 32 hits, scored 31 runs, drove in 24, stroked four doubles and had four triples. True to her ‘catcher’s eye,’ she only struck out three times all year. “Alex has been on the team since seventh grade and each and every year has shown tremendous improvement as our catcher. She is tasked to do so much for our team. She calls every pitch in every game, is a calming force for the team and our pitcher and gets the job done on a daily and consistent basis through her work ethic,” PV coach Rena Finsmith said.

GABI LEGGETT, NEWBURGH – Another terrific year for Leggett as she closes her high school career with a .456 average this past season. She drove in 15 runs, scored 24 and stole 12 bases to lead the Goldbacks in virtually every offensive category.

CARLY CORREA, MARLBORO – Here’s another name you’ll be hearing quite a lot of each spring. Only an eighth-grader, Correa had a tremendous varsity season by batting .492 with 22 singles, nine doubles, nine walks and 19 runs scored.

LYNDSEY GILLESPIE, JOHN JAY – Voted a team captain for 2018, Gillespie batted .405 and scored 24 runs, both of which led the team. she also got on base nearly every other at-bat (.476) while playing a solid second base. “Lyndsey was one of our spark plugs this year. She hit in the three hole and always found a way to get on base,” Jay coach Mike Crocco said. “We had such a tough schedule and faced so many elite pitchers yet Lyndsey always got on base and scored runs.”

CASSI KIELB, KETCHAM – The lefty leadoff slap-hitter led the team with a .398 average, 30 hits and 18 runs scored. She also drove in 12 runs. “Cassi has a natural “feel” for the game,” Ketcham coach Scott Satterlee said. “She does things on the field that you can not teach. One of the most athletic players I have ever had the privilege to coach.”

JO SCHMIDT, PINE PLAINS – A third-team all-state performer, Schmidt was terrific in helping the Bombers to the state title game for a second straight year. Schmidt hit .507, drove in 27 runs and struck out just three times all season “Jo had a huge season both at the plate and being our infield leader at shortstop,” coach Les Funk said. “We needed a big bat hitting behind Cat in lineup and Jo was that consistent threat at plate for us all year. She is a solid all-around athlete that would do whatever is needed for the best interest of her team.”

OLIVIA ROONEY, JOHN JAY – “We would not have been in the section championship without Olivia,” coach Mike Crocco said. “Her leadership was even more valuable than her softball talents. We have a young team and she always made everyone on the team feel comfortable and relaxed. She seemed to always come through in the clutch.” Rooney hit .350 and swatted five home runs with 38 RBI.

BRITTANY TAGG, WARWICK – Incredible. Tagg got a hit 54 percent of her at-bats, reached base 63 percent of the time and had a ridiculous 1.070 slugging percentage. And when she did reach base, she stole the next one 17 times. Tagg also clubbed right home runs, drove in 16 runs and scored 25 times.

PAIGE DAUENHEIMER, HIGHLAND – Heck of a season for Dauenheimer, who batted an even .500. Twelve of her 26 hits were for extra bases, and she drove in 31 runs and scored 15 runs. “Paige has the purest swing in the entire MHAL,” Highland coach Kathleen Canosa said. “She is only a sophomore but has the mental toughness of a senior.”

KILEY BESKO, ARLINGTON – Her mom was a star at Arlington, and so is she. Besko batted .467 on the season with 38 runs scored, 10 runs batted in, 12 stolen bases, and she also reached base 19 times via walk or hit by pitch. “Kiley was our team captain on and off the field. She was a leader during our winter workouts and a big part of our team’s activities, including fund raising for annual Strike Out Cancer t-shirt sales,” Arlington coach Dave Ballantyne said.

SYDNEY BONEWIT, KINGSTON – Bonewit not only played a solid center field for the Tigers, but she was outstanding out of the leadoff spot, batting .435 and scoring 19 runs while driving in 12 herself.

JESS PEHUSH, GOSHEN – She’ll be back again next year as a senior, which is not a pleasant thought for Section 9 pitchers. Pehush hit .495 for the year, knocked in 20 runs, scored 19, and stole all 10 bases she attempted.

ALIYA FEERICK, ROOSEVELT – Can you say prodigy? Just a seventh-grader, Feerick adapted to varsity ball in a hurry. She batted .507 and scored 27 runs for the Presidents. “Aliya started off the year on JV while the Varsity team went to Myrtle Beach. With a sudden injury, she was called up to fill the void, and boy did she,” Roosevelt coach Kristi Coughlin said. “.507 is unheard of. She is a force to be reckoned with and FDR Softball would not have had as much success without her being an integral part of it. “

ALLY BECK, WASHINGTONVILLE – A scholar-athlete, Beck had solid numbers in 2018 – and one in particular that stood out. She had a whopping .722 slugging percentage, giving her a 1.085 OPS. She also stole 12 bases. “Ally has put a lot of time into perfecting her craft, specifically her offensive game and it has truly paid off. She led the team in a number of offensive and on the defensive end she is one of a kind, running down nearly every ball hit her way and holding runners to just one base, ultimately saving a lot of runs this season,” Washingtonville coach Laurissa Riley said. “Ally’s work ethic is second to none as she is always the first one on the field and last one off.” Beck is off to Division I Hartford in the fall.

OLIVIA RACETTE, LIBERTY – Capping her fifth and final year on the varsity, Racette batted .466 with four home runs, 27 RBI, 25 runs scored and a .759 slugging percentage. “Olivia was invaluable to me in my first year as varsity coach, and to the rest of the team,” coach David Phillips said. “This is true both on and off the field, where she is a tremendous model for our younger players. On the field, her intensity and enthusiasm is unmatched. She strives always to make herself better and helps her teammates to do the same. She was the centerpiece of our team this year, and rightly so.”

TAYLOR KETCHIN, DOVER – Impossible to keep this infielder off the Dream Team, not with an area-best .658 batting average, including 25 RBI and a .985 fielding percentage. “She’s the reason we won our division and played in MHALs for the first time,” coach Tony Ketchin said.

MADDIE PACIONE, NEWBURGH – Never hurts to have another pitcher on the team, including one that can hit. Pacione wrapped up her career with 116 strikeouts in 86 innings and pitched to a 2.44 ERA. At the plate, she hit .350. Pacione leaves NFA as the all-time leader in strikeouts with 289, multiple shutouts and two no-hitters.

(In no particular order)
Kayla Chavarria, Pawling
Kim Astrologo, Mahopac
Lindsey Martin, Red Hook
Alyssa Virga, Red Hook
Alexis Murphy, Red Hook
Alexis Murphy, Roosevelt
Savannah Mora, Beacon
Taryn Maloney, Beacon
Elaina Wagner, Lourdes
Kamryn Haran, Beacon
Kiera Power, Wallkill
Maddy Maglione, Wallkill
Kyle Detz, Wallkill
Rachel Perez, John Jay
Alyssa Hughes, Ketcham
Amanda Owens, Roosevelt
Emily Nagle, Washingtonville
Katy Decker, Liberty
Julia Garcia, Cornwall
Emery Gibbons, Arlington
Nicole Lemp, Arlington
Emily McKenna, Putnam Valley
Keiko Waters, Putnam Valley
Frankie Reyes, Putnam Valley
Tori Borowski, Monroe-Woodbury
Aubrey Ketchum, Minisink
Kourtney Ketchum, Minisink
Jada Roman, Minisink
Nicole Schuessler, Pine Bush
Mel Papuli, Marlboro
Sydney Shuta, Marlboro
Victoria Sorace, Marlboro
Ella Leduc, Marlboro
Kaitlyn Tudico, Marlboro
Elizabeth Miller, Roosevelt
Liz Gross, Roosevelt
Jill Harrison, New Paltz
Emily Lutz, Ellenville
Alyssa Finno, Kingston
Taylor Riccardi, Brewster
Victoria Urbanowicz, John Jay
Dominique Russo, John Jay
McKenzie Fisher, Rondout
Haley Strang, Pine Plains

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