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Lewis, Bayside contending for ‘A’ title

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Junior Camille Sedayao is penciled in as the No. 1 pitcher and the Alves sisters are back: seniors Stephanie is in centerfield and Cat is at shortstop, but Solomon will miss third basemen Jessica Gerloven (Queens College), Kira Lacks (Brandeis), Eldina Derisevic and pitcher Jennifer Smith, who all contributed to reaching the championship game against Tottenville. Junior Tiffany Hernandez will replace Gerloven at third base. Francis Lewis broke down defensively in the title game and Solomon has made defense a point of emphasis this season."We have to get better in the field if we're going to make it back to the finals again," he said.Bayside is a juggernaut in softball and last season was no exception. The Commodores reached the semifinals for the sixth time in eight seasons, and head coach Steve Piorkowski has designs on getting back to the Final Four again this season. Annel Sanchez, the top player in the city last year and Bayside's No. 1 pitcher earned a full scholarship to New York Tech, and she will be impossible to replace, but Piorkowski, in his 15th season, didn't build a near dynasty by lamenting the loss of his players. For the past four years he has been working with senior Dayna Navatta on throwing four different types of pitches and Navatta, the No. 1 starter, has the potential, Piorkowski says, to be one of the top five pitchers in the city.Senior TK Bent is back behind the plate and six players return from last years' team. Piorkowski is adding a new wrinkle by starting two freshmen in Cadie Chu at first base and Mariel Perez in centerfield. He is also moving junior Kasey Parente from third base to shortstop to make up for the loss of Gayle Silverstein who graduated and is attending UConn.After going 9-6 in Queens A and reaching the second round of the playoffs last year, Bryant softball coach Wally Hausdorf is not sure what to expect from his team this year.The Owls graduated five starters, including first baseman Ingy Mohamed and right fielder Jelena Nemaric, who Hausdorf says were keys to the team getting to the second round. Hausdorf places a lot of importance on the right field position - a strong player can throw runners out at first on would-be singles - and it is one spot he is looking to fill this year with one of eight new players up from the JV team.Returning is star senior pitcher Nina Chao, who went 8-5 with a 1.67 ERA last year. However, she injured her ankle in the Owls' first non-league game this spring and after taking a week off to rest, has had a little trouble pushing off the mound.Sophomore Ashley Allen is a potential standout in her first year starting in center. Hausdorf describes her as a "lefty batter who can fly" but he is still trying to teach her the arts of bunting and slap hitting. "We will try to compete as always," said Hausdorf, who is in his 25th year of coaching. "Every year is a new adventure. I'm really thrilled to be with the girls and to show them what they're capable of doing."Patricia Pabon was Townsend Harris' All-Queens catcher and best hitter last year with a .464 average and 21 RBIs. Without her this season, coach Howie Furman is looking for his players to hit better as a team and play better defense. He now has a freshman, Danielle Abatemarco, starting at catcher, one of the most important positions on the field.However, the Hawks retained their best pitcher, senior Alyssa Wick who had 71 strikeouts in 61 innings last year as well as shortstop Katherine Incantalupo and centerfielder Michelle Montgoris, who is also an emergency catcher and second pitcher who filled in a few games last season when Wick was injured.The Hawks were just 7-8 last year but reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs, where they lost to Francis Lewis. So far Furman likes what he has seen and is hoping for the same kind of playoff success as well as a better regular season record.After Newtown coasted to the 'B' softball title last year, head coach Wayne Crawford demanded that his team get relocated to the 'A' division. But when the schedules were released he was still stuck in his old division. So he called the PSAL and basically insisted that a change be made and the PSAL gods granted him his wish.You know how the saying goes: be careful what you wish for."It made no sense to stay down there," Crawford said. "We beat a team by the score of 24-2 where we would pull the starters after two innings. Those types of games aren't fun for anyone."The Pioneers lost star pitcher Erika Collado to Baruch College, where she is playing volleyball but not softball. Crawford will also miss centerfielder Annie Wu (Stony Brook) and leftfielder Lisa Wang (St. John's). The reason Crawford was so brazen in his decision to move up is because he returns eight players from last year's team, including pitcher Katie Gormon, who will replace Collado as the No. 1 starter and one of the top defensive catchers in the league last year, senior Katelyn Ranzie. Cardozo is looking to improve on last season's 2-13 record and first-round playoff exit with the return of senior pitcher Melinda Carrion, who was ineligible last year, and a new catcher in sophomore Sarah Powell. Pitching and catching were two weak spots for the Judges last year but Coach Larry Alberts expects the battery to be improved this season. Alberts has most of his starters back after graduating only two players, first baseman Hillary Reinharz and center fielder Kris Meletis. One key returning player is sophomore shortstop Laura Guzman, who has an arm like a gun. So far this year, Alberts has been pleased with his players' hard work. And he knows that success can be cyclical."We spent a lot of years on top," he said. "We made the top eight in the playoffs every year for eight years. It goes up and down - we've had a few dry years and the competition is tough but the girls are very enthusiastic and having a good time this year."Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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