By MIKE SMITH
Harrison’s softball squad might have faced its fair share of adversity this year, but that didn’t stop the Huskies, who battled to a 12-10 mark and got a thrilling playoff win under their belts. As the team begins to look ahead to next year, good health–and pitching–could put the Huskies right back at the top of the Class A landscape.
After injuries derailed the seasons of Harrison’s top two hurlers, Christina DeCarlo and Taylor Day,
head coach Dean Marino turned to senior Jenna Vaccaro, who acquitted herself nicely from May on, going 5-4 with a 3.73 ERA.
“She did a fantastic job for us, and if she didn’t do it, we would have been in trouble,” Marino said. “She won some big games down the stretch and she really helped to raise our spirit this year as a team.”
One such big game was the team’s first-round playoff matchup with Sleepy Hollow. Vaccaro kept the Huskies in the ballgame through seven innings before giving way to Day, who was perfect in the last two before Jordan Riddle’s ninth-inning RBI would propel the Huskies to an 8-7 extra-inning win.
“The bottom line is we were in such close games all year, the girls never panicked,” Marino said. “We knew eventually we were going to run into a team that was better than us, but, to get that win, to push us into the top 12 teams still in it, that was big for us.”
The Huskies would lose the following day to a good Tappan Zee squad, but Marino said he was still pleased with the way his girls played down the stretch. Riddle was named to the All-League team along with Vaccaro, Jordan Valentzas, Kendra Deschamps and shortstop Dominique LoGuidice. LoGuidice–who finished the season with a .486 batting average–was also named to the All-Section squad.
“She had a tremendous year, hitting around .500 and she led the team in RBIs and slugging percentage,” Marino said of his shortstop. “She turned it up a notch. She’s always been a very good player, but she matured a lot this year.”
LoGuidice will be one of Harrison’s top returnees next year along with Day, centerfielder Sydney Woolf and DeCarlo.
According to Marino, while it will benefit the team to have DeCarlo back on the mound next year, the Huskies will also be helped by her production at the plate. In half a season of work, DeCarlo hit .405 and belted two home runs.
“Before she got hurt, she was leading our team in almost every hitting category,” Marino said. “We’re hoping she comes back strong next year.”
Marino and assistant coach Nat Acuti also picked up a milestone win this year, winning their 200th game on March 28. Although Marino said he had no idea he and his longtime assistant were closing in on their 200th victory, Deschamps, who put together a Powerpoint presentation about the program for an off-season clinic, let the rest of the team know.
“[Nat] and I were talking about it and it’s really a tribute to all the girls who have come through the program,” Marino said. “To see some of the girls we coached who are now married and bringing their kids to clinics at five years old; watching them succeed was the real milestone.”
Several of Harrison’s players will spend the summer playing for Marino’s Total KAOS program against some of the top competition in the area and beyond. The team–which is mainly comprised of girls from Harrison, Pelham and Eastchester–has already played in three tournaments this summer and has qualified for the United States Softball Association’s national tournament, which will be held in Maryland in late-July.
“We’ve had a good summer so far,” Marino said. “Taylor’s been pitching very well for us and we should get DeCarlo and [Valhalla’s] Sydney Holtz back before we go up to Rockland for a tournament in two weeks.”