RHINEBECK, N.Y. The last three years, Valhalla won a Section 1 softball title only to have its state-title dreams immediately ended by Rhinebeck of Section 9.
On Tuesday, the Section 1 Class B champions will return to Rhinebeck, but the Vikings will not have to face the host team. Instead, Valhalla will play Section 9 titlist Highland at 1 p.m. in a regional semifinal.
The other semifinal, also at 1 p.m., is Carle Place (Section 8) vs. Babylon (Section 11) at Livingston Elementary School. The winners of each game play, 4 p.m. on Saturday, at Rhinebeck for a berth in the state final four at the Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury.
Valhalla won its fourth straight sectional title with a 2-1 triumph over Rye Neck. Eighth-grader Kaylie Dymek scored a run and snapped a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with a single. While Valhalla welcomed the challenge of playing Rhinebeck, senior Danielle Maffei and her teammates are not looking past Highland and its 11-10 record.
Coach told us that we should not underestimate them and dont let our guards down, Maffei said. We have to have that same mindset that we had when we played Rye Neck. We want to win this regional even more.
Valhalla returned Monday to practice and Maffei said the captains were quite pleased with the way it went.
Practice went very smooth, Maffei said. After we hit inside, we went out outside. Our minds were in it and we were very focused.
Highland earned a regional berth with a 4-1 win over James I. ONeill in the Section 9 final. Carly Bilchak and Shannon Ward combined for the win.
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