Rye Neck’s Exhilarating Ride Ends in Championship Game

It was difficult to envision the Rye Neck girls’ softball team as contenders for the Section crown after they began the season 1-5, but there they were June 4 at aptly named Heroes Field in Nanuet, set to go toe-to-toe with top-seeded Dobbs Ferry for the Class B championship.

The 2010 Panthers

The two schools battled for an inning in Rockland before a thunderstorm forced a postponement. They continued the tilt June 6 at White Plains, with Dobbs Ferry eventually emerging as champions with a 3-0 win over the heroic second-seeded Panthers. While Rye Neck’s story ended Monday, it will be long before it’s forgotten. This was a team that captured lightning of their own, winning 16 of 17 contests before succumbing to the 21-2 Eagles.

“I’m so proud of the girls,” said head coach Joan Spedafino. “We really came alive defensively after that 1-5 start, and while we were never an offensive powerhouse, different girls always stepped up to get the job done.”

Nikki Amatuzzo

Georgia Richardson, one of only two Rye Neck seniors (Nikki Amatuzzo is the other), did her part in the Section quarterfinal. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the right fielder delivered a clutch two-run double that propelled Rye Neck to a 3-2 win over No. 7 Albertus Magnus.

Sophomore ace Jessica Calvini also contributed masterfully in the playoffs, much as she had done all season long. The pitcher limited Magnus to one hit while striking out 14, and then followed that up with another one-hitter in the semifinals against third-seeded Westlake. Calvini struck out 11 in that contest, and the 7-0 victory was the 40th of her young career. It was also the 17th shutout for the sophomore, which tied a school record. She reached a pair of pitching milestones in the regular season, both against Pleasantville. On April 23 she recorded her 300th strikeout, and a little over one month later, she hit 400 for her career.

Jessica Calvini

“Calvini was great all year, and she’s only going to get stronger and stronger,” said Spedafino. “She also has so many great players behind her, and Vanessa Laise really played well in her first year as catcher.”

Spedafora praised her staff, which includes her husband, co-head coach Frank Spedafora, son Robbie, and former player Amy Corelli, for contributing to the team’s 17-7 mark. The coach is optimistic about next season with so many returning players, including Calvini, Laise, Marissa Bella, Nicole Pineda, Nikole Morgan, Nicole Maggio and Kati Dong.

Marissa Bella

“We have a great program here, and the girls are already talking about getting to work for next year,” said Spedafino.

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One Response to “Rye Neck’s Exhilarating Ride Ends in Championship Game”

  1. Marge-Joe Says:

    You had a great season==and you have been and are a GREAT COACH

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