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Hudson River Bandits shatter myth of southern/midwest softball supremacy.

Banditas talk of Charlotte as three Bandit teams go 13-6 in NSA B World Series

Twelve and Under Bandits club, featuring Westchester County girls -- 1 strike away from the semifinals. They beat teams from Michigan, Indiana, Virginia. Still standing after 52 teams leave for home.

INSTANT WIN! Bandit coaches rush mound as Ilana Price gets final out in 5-2 Bandita Win over Prince William (Va) Bandits at the NSA World Series in Charlotte, North Carolina

By Howard Rosell, WPCNR Sports Correspondent

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CityLine: July 27, 2001 -- Charlotte, North Carolina

"You're from New York? New York teams never win down here."

They do now.

That was what hard core softball fans were saying as they watched the Hudson River 12-and-under Bandits battle the Cass Indiana Flames into a tiebreaker of a 0-0 game last Wednesday.

The next day, the 12 and under Hudson River Bandits featuring White Plains' Kelsey Kulk, Deana Frederick and Juliana Bailey; and Pleasantville's Emma Covello were 1 strike away from going to the semifinal of the National Softball Association "B" World Series last week.

In the 9th inning of their second international tiebreaker on Thursday, only two sensational catches by Carolina Wildfire outfielders denied the Banditas a berth in the semifinal.

It was the first time ever that Hudson River Bandits organization teams had stayed alive all week until Friday in the Nationals. (Two losses in the intense tournament send a team home). All three teams of the Red and Gray went a combined 13 and 6 in the five days of play.

The 14-and-under Bandits were the talk of the Nationals, winning 4 straight against the North Florida Sliders, the Forest Hill Golden Thunder, the Cincinnati Elite (overcoming a 3-0 deficit in the sixth inning), and the Diamond Fever, before bowing out. Their run placed them in "The Supreme 15" Final Team in their bracket. The 14-and-unders feature great pitching behind Maddy Coon of Chappaqua, Kristen Schramek of Brewster, and Ali Gardiner of Waccabuc.

The 16 and-under Bandits had a spectacular run. They lost their first game and won six straight in do-or-die time before checking out. The sixteen's beat the Diamond Stealers, the Denver(N.C.) Dazzle, the Char Meck Cardinals, the Intimidators, the River City Stealers, and the Rowan Raptors. White Plains Tiger High School softball stars, Cyndi Carnaghi and Ciara DiFrancesco along with Chappaqua stars, Margaret Netek, Kathryn Foti and Kerri Ann Kelly stud the Bandit 16 and-under line up.

The 12-and-unders were a Cinderella story comments one 12-and-under parent, Judy Kulk, writing WPCNR:

"After analyzing the bracket board as found on the NSA world series web site, I came to the conclusion that 32 teams were left standing for the First game on Friday morning. The Hudson River Bandits were one of those 32 teams! An excellent job by a team composed of 11 brand new recruits to tournament ball and two veteran players! With five games and two shutouts one of then in 9 innings."

The Hudson River 12-and unders won their first Tournament game Monday, ousting the Missouri Mustangs, 12-0 behind Ilana (They call her The Piranha because she chews you up) Price who pitched the first of two shutouts. The smoking redhead dominated the young Mustangs who could not touch her.

Control problems in a driving rain hampered the Mustang pitcher who could not get the ball over the plate and the Banditas cashed in the walks with solid hits. Buchanan's Jillian Gallagher got things started with an infield single and Deana Frederick singled sharply. After White Plains' Kelsey Kulk's walk, Ilana Price singled to drive in the first run and Sara Byron of Brewster singled for 2 runs, and the Bandits were up 4-0 by the close of the first. In the second inning, rangy first-sacker Nicole Fedele of Cortlandt Manor laced a long 2-run single to stretch the lead to 7-0. Sara Byron's triple to dead center in the third put the final run across and the Bandits had a 12-0 win by 10:30 in the morning.

Then came the wait. First the trip back to their posh hotel in South Park and the trip back to the sports complex for their night game at 6. However, heavy thundershowers delayed games and the Bandits did not get to play their 6 PM game until 9 o'clock that night. Parents of the starving Banditas scrounged for food at the concession stands that had run out of food. Finally Ilana threw her first pitch at 9 PM on a perfectly manicured field even after the heavy rains in the Piedmont.

The Bandits, batting first pounced on their counterparts, the Prince William (Va) Bandits for a quick 2 runs in the first. The pesky leadoff hitter, Jillian Gallagher walked. Deana Frederick walked. Cleanup hitter Ilana Price hit into a fielders choice at short to score Jillian and Sara Byron whacked a single up the middle to bring Deana around for a 2-0 lead.

Kelsey Kulk of White Plains, starting for the Banditas got into a bases loaded jam in the last of the first, lost a batter on a 3-2 pitch to force in one run, but fanned a hitter and induced a groundout to ease out of the first with a 2-1 lead. Kelsey drew a walk, moved to second on Ilana Price's grounder to short and scored in the third inning on Sara Byron's second solid single of the game.

Kulk, mixing her fastball and changeup well with good control retired six in a row in the third and fourth, but tired in the fifth, and Ilana "The Piranha" was waved in from the bullpen with the bases loaded and 1 out and the score 3-2. Ilana fanned two with the lead run on second to escape the jam and the Banditas lead 3-2 going to the sixth.

In the last of the sixth, Ilana walked the lead off hitter, and retired the next two batters but a dropped third strike moved the tying to third and the winning run to first, who eventually reached second. With two outs, the final Prince William batter lofted a deep fly to straightaway center and Emma Covello caught it on a line for the final out, a game-saving catch.

The Banditas had Tuesday off, spending part of it at Carowinds Amusement Park, then came back Wednesday at noon to play the Cass Indiana Flames, and played "the game of the tournament." With Ilana Price on the mound, she and "Big Wilson" of the Cass club staged a pitcher's duel complete with great plays and heart-stopping situations.

With dugout shot: BANDIT BENCH watches the action at the Charlotte NSA World Series

The game moved into the 8th inning scoreless with Price pitching out of runner on third situations twice. In the 8th, with the Flames starting out with a runner on second, Price fanned the Flame hitter for the final out. In the last of the 8th, a one-hand grab in deep right robbed the Bandits' Nikki Pasquale of Katonah from being the heroine, retiring the side and sending the scoreless tie into the ninth. By this time, a hundred fans had gathered behind the backstop to watch the game because word had spread throughout the complex about "this great game."

In the ninth, with the Flames again starting with a runner on second, they got a runner to third. And with two out, a bunt was fielded by Kelsey Kulk, and with no chance at the runner at first she faked the throw to first and flipped to Sara Byron at the plate for the final out, nailing the third base runner coming in at the plate. It was a great, game-saving play.

In the final half of the ninth, the Bandits won it. With Nikki Pasquale off second to start the breaker, Emma Covello grounded to deep short to move the runner to third. Then with two strikes on her, Justine Tribou of Ossining slapped the ball deep in the hole at short, the throw to the plate was high and Pasquale scored the winning run for a 1-0 win. Ilana Price finished the game with 15 strikeouts and only 1 walk and 1 hit.

On Thursday, it looked good for the Banditas. They broke out to a three-run lead over the Carolina Wildfire when the Wildfire rightfielder and centerfielder collided on Ilana Price's long fly allowing three runs to score with two out. The Wildfire pecked away at Price, picking up three unearned runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh to tie the score. In the seventh, Price was one strike away from pitching the Banditas into the semi-finals on Friday, but a muffed infield bloop allowed the tying run to score.

In the eighth, another untimely infield error put the Flames ahead, 4-3. The Bandits would not quit. An error by the Flame shortstop allowed the tying run to cross, and with the winning run on third, a great change-up induced a popup and the game went to the ninth. In the ninth, a single up the middle gave the Flames a 5-4 lead.

The Bandits took a shot at it in the bottom of the ninth. With the tying run on third, Sara Byron hit the longest shot of the game on a line to deep dead center, racing back, the Wildfire centerfielder speared it one-handed over her left shoulder, committing highway robbery on Byron. The ball would have rolled on forever all the way to the fence for a game winning homer.

On the very next play, Cortlandt Manor's Choley Fedele blooped a Texas Leaguer back of third and the Wildfire hot cornerette loped back, her back to the plate and reached just hauled in the bloop on an over-the-shoulder catch for out number two. A pop to the pitcher ended the Bandit run.

Friday morning, the Bandits went quietly to the Cass Flames in a rematch, losing 7-4. The 12-unders featured Sara Byron, Katie Slingerland and Eva Tringali of Brewster. Juliana Bailey, Dena Frederick and Kelsey Kulk from White Plains. Jillian Gallagher of Buchanan. Brittainy Peterson and Nikki Pasquale of Katonah. Justine Tribou of Ossining. Emma Covello of Pleasantville. Nicole Fedele and Rachel Gottesman of Cortlandt Manor. Ilana Price of Wilton, Connecticut.

The 12-and-unders won 30 and lost 15 over the season winning the East Fishkill Challenge championship, and finishing second in the Hudson Valley Express Tournament.

It was a week to remember for the Bandits. We'll have more details on the 16s and the 14s tournament performances in a future article.

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