As the school year comes to an end, the spring sports season has also drawn to a close. For the Pawling High School softball team under Coach John Hodge, the season saw many thrilling victories, records broken, and ultimately a playoff run that had their school and their town behind them.
Kneeling in front row (left to right): Olivia Zoeller, Anna Lisa Credendino, Samantha Smith, Kayla Chavarri. Standing: Mark Campbell, Julia Zoeller, Bela Santiago, Emily Wall, Ali Parent, Frankie Fleming, Grace Lena, Dana Milne, Alexa Chavarri, Tom Zoeller. Back Row: John Hodge
The Tigers’ year began with excitement, as senior Kayla Chavarri pitched a no-hitter against Pleasantville in the second game of the season, logging sixteen strikeouts. The squad would record impressive victories of Rye Neck and Marlboro, the team that defeated Pawling in the regional finals two seasons prior. On April 14, the Tigers competed in the John Sullivan Memorial Tournament at Clarkstown North High School. The team defeated Clarkstown North by a score of 11 – 2 to advance to the tournament final, where they would come up just short to Nanuet, losing in extra innings. Three Tigers were named to the All-Tournament Team, with Kayla Chavarri, Olivia Zoeller, and Samantha Smith all receiving honors.
Later that month, the Tigers had a long awaited rematch with a Haldane team that had upset them in the Sectional Final the previous season. In this meeting, Pawling emerged victorious behind a dominant performance by Olivia Zoeller, who pitched a no-hitter, recording eighteen strikeouts, and went 2 – 4 with 4 RBIs. On May 2, Pawling hosted longtime rivals Putnam Valley. The game would be the very first sporting event broadcast live by Pawling Public Radio. Listeners were treated to a 10 – 7 victory for the Tigers. Less than a week later, Senior Day honored graduating players Anna Lisa Credendino, Samantha Smith, Kayla Chavarri, and Olivia Zoeller. That day, Zoeller would hit a grand slam and record eight RBIs en route to breaking the all time career hits record previously held by Morgan Kelly.
Following a 9 – 0 victory over North Salem, the Tigers once again captured the League Championship for the fifth straight year. Pawling would host Haldane in the Section 1 Class C semifinal, going on to win 9 – 0 powered by a one-hitter with fifteen strikeouts by Olivia Zoeller.
On May 25, Pawling would win the Sectional Championship following a 27 – 0 rout of Alexander Hamilton. Kayla Chavarri would throw a two-hitter, also scoring five runs with three RBIs. Anna Lisa Credendino, Frankie Fleming, Alison Parent, and Emily wall would each contribute multiple RBIs as well. Advancing to the state regional semifinals would set the Tigers up for a showdown with Pine Plains on May 31. Pawling would lead 3 – 2 in the fifth inning, but would be unable to stop a late surge and were defeated by a final score of 5 – 3.
The Pawling Tigers year was doubly impressive, considering the team had played shorthanded since the beginning of the season with only eleven players. Grace Lena and Dana Milne were praised for their versatility, and Alexa Chavarri provided support when called up from the JV squad.
In addition to their accomplishments as a team, players also received a number of personal accolades. Olivia Zoeller and Kalya Chavarri were named All Section, with Bela Santiago receiving an honorable mention. Frankie Fleming, Alison Parent, Bela Santiago, Samantha Smith, and Julia Zoeller would be named All League, with Anna Lisa Credendino and Emily Wall receiving honorable mentions.
With the season now over, the Tigers have a great deal to be proud of. “The girls have dedicated years of hard work to get to where they are today with the second Section 1 Championship and their fifth League title,” said Pawling Central Schools Athletic Director John Bellucci. “This has been the result of some great support along the way from all their parents, their travel coaches, the little league, modified and JV experiences. I don’t think their parents, coaches, fellow students or the entire Pawling Community could be more proud of this team for representing us in both their great success and more importantly in their sportsmanship and honoring the game so well.”