By MIKE SMITH
Rye Neck’s march towards a section title continued on May 23 when the Panthers easily outclassed Hastings at home with a 15-0 win to advance to the Class B quarterfinals. With a bonafide ace and a team playing its best ball of the spring, big things seem to be on the horizon for the Rye Neck program.
The Panthers had little trouble with Hastings on Friday, disposing of the Yellow Jackets in a mercy rule-shortened game. Hurler Diana King was dominant on the mound and the Panthers seemingly scored at will.
According to head coach Joan Spedafino, the game was simply a continuation of the Panthers’ good play at the end of the season. In the weeks leading up to the Section I tournament, Rye Neck has dispatched a number of worthy foes, including Westlake, North Salem and Pelham.
“I think we’ve been playing some really good games,” Spedafino said. “We’ve had some good competition and I’ve been very happy with the way we’ve been playing lately.”
Spedafino has been especially pleased with the way everyone has been contributing to wins over the last calendar month. Rye Neck finished the regular season with a 15-4 record, and the head coach said there’s no shortage of praise to go around.
“Sam Yanuzzi, our catcher, has done a great job and she has some big shoes to fill,” Spedafino said. “But really, almost everyone on this team has been with me for a number of years, and too many people have done a great job for me to single out.”
The Panthers will try to keep the season alive on May 27 when they host a tough Dobbs Ferry team. Dobbs Ferry beat the Panthers once before this season, but didn’t face King–who was sidelined with an injury‑in the 7-4 win. According to Spedafino, the quarterfinals will be a solid test for her team.
“They’re powerful hitters and a good team,” she said. “I expect it’s going to be a very good game.”
Despite the four-day layoff, Spedafino said, the Panthers have done their best to stay sharp for their May 27 showdown.
“Of course, we wanted to play on Saturday, we felt like we were on a roll,” she said. “But these things happen.”
If the Panthers can get past Dobbs Ferry, they earn the right to take on the winners of North Salem versus Pawling.
The top seed in Class B is still alive as Tuckahoe gets set to take on Yonkers Montessori.