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Wet weather a concern for City Honors; Nardin looks to build on last year

No word on whether any softball teams feel like singing "rain, rain, go away."

It's pretty certain they all want it to come back another day, though, like during the offseason. That especially holds true for City Honors since its playoff hopes depend on a little cooperation from Mother Nature.

The Centaurs, the former Thompson Trophy power playing an independent schedule, have  had the opportunity to play only four games due to rainouts. They're 3-1. They need to play the minimum number of 10 games by 7 p.m. May 15 in order to be eligible for the Section VI Tournament.

With Monday's storm and more rain in the forecast this week – there's good reason for longtime coach Deb Matos to worry.

The Centaurs need to get in at least six of their final 14 scheduled games but other teams' weather postponements could impact City Honors because league makeup games take priority on a team's schedule over nonleague contests. All of the Centaurs' games are considered nonleague since they're independent.

"They don't have to play us so it's getting a little scary," Matos said.

The Centaurs have 11 returnees, including five seniors who have been with the program since seventh grade, hoping to build on last year's semifinal loss to Alden.

Jenna Balducci, who has signed with Mercyhurst, returns to catcher after playing third base the past few seasons because the team needed a receiver. She's batting .566 with a .778 slugging percentage. Battery-mate Ariana DeJesus-Rodriguez has two of the team's wins, is averaging seven strikeouts a game and also has had success at the plate – hitting .544. Other seniors include the outfield of Alexa Tronolone (center), Nadia Jackson (left) and Eliza Burton (right).

Underclassmen who have already become key contributors include sophomore shortstop/No. 2 pitcher Iris Kahris, classmate Valerie Wales (first and second base) and eighth-grader Alyssa Wasielewski, who plays second and short. Wasielewski is batting .500.

Weather permitting, City Honors plays Wednesday against host Kenmore East at Lincoln Park and Thursday at Frontier.

"We're excited about this season," Matos said. "We're just hoping we get a season because of Mother Nature."

Nardin looks to build on last year's success

Thus far City Honors has played its four games against members of the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association with its lone loss coming to defending champion Nardin.

The Gators feature seven returnees from the squad that reached the state Catholic final. That includes pitcher Jessica Dipesquala, catcher Hannah Francisco, second baseman Courtney Chiappone and third baseman Alyssa Coons.

Coach Christina Waring believes last year's success does carry over.

"These girls have great leadership and determination to continuously better themselves by learning game to game and improving on any weaknesses we may have," she said. "This year's team is one of the most close-knit teams I have had the pleasure to coach and I look forward to seeing what they can do."

Nardin, which has been able to get in only four games (2-2, 1-1) due to weather, won the league as a No. 3 seed -- a sign of just how closely matched the teams were last season.

The same seems to be holding true in 2017, with a bunch of teams packed closely together – including St. Mary's, the 2015 postseason champion. A key member of that squad, Erin Hufford, is back for her senior season. The Canisius College commit is playing outfield and pitching for the Lancers (5-3), batting .595. Junior Mackenzie Suto is also pitching – striking out 11 in five innings during a recent win over Frontier. She also plays first base. Shortstop/utility Catie Bish is batting .441, while catcher Maggie Kellner had four home runs to go with a .452 average.

Other contenders besides Nardin and St. Mary's include Mount St. Mary and Sacred Heart.

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