By Sean Simmons
HOLMDEL – The St. John Vianney softball team finished last season with an impressive 29-2 record and were the Monmouth County Tournament Champs, A Central Division Champs, Sectional Champs and State Champs.
The Lancers were also No. 1 in New Jersey and ranked 16th in the nation.
“We graduated one starter from last season, however, we lost pitcher Kate Beriont due to a torn ACL she suffered during basketball season and we also lost junior starter Claire Stefnelli,” SJV head coach Kim Lombardi said.
The returning players for the Lancers this season are senior right fielder Kate Baron, senior shortstop Jackie Gallagher, senior third baseman Marlena Bevilacqua, junior catcher Michelle King, junior catcher-designated hitter Jess Carlucci, junior outfielder Breanna Keelan, junior pitcher Ashley Ventura, junior second baseman Erica Krumbine, sophomore designated hitter-outfielder Helena Coppola and sophomore infielder-outfielder Anne Mangenillo.
The newcomers for the Lancers this season are junior outfielder Victoria Mahoney, freshman center fielder-infielder Gianna Mavica, freshman first baseman-infielder Megan Masi and freshman outfielder-pitcher Demi Rivera.
“My outlook on this season is positive,” Lombardi said. “We will fill the holes and find a way to make it to the top.”
During the first game of the season against Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, the Lancers won by a 25-0 score with Ventura throwing a no-hitter.
After Year of Struggle, Shore Aims to Improve
By Jim Hintelmann
WEST LONG BRANCH – Last year, with an inexperienced team playing in a very strong A Division Central, it wasn’t too surprising that Shore Regional struggled with a 4-17 record.
With most of the team coming back, however, coach Rich Santangelo is hoping for better results. A .500 record is a possibility.
“We’re playing pretty well in our scrimmages so far,” Santangelo said. “We’re hitting the ball hard, our defense looks pretty good and I expect to improve over last year.”
The only position without varsity experience is pitching, but Santangelo is hoping that newcomer Kasey Roman can do the job.
“This is her first year of varsity,” Santangelo said, “but I think she can handle it.”
Other returning players who started last year are first baseman Jess Layton, second baseman Sam Rivera, shortstop Lauren Shirley, who has been switched after pitching a year ago, third baseman Sam Irace, outfielders Cara Zimmerman and Morgan Bohnert, and designated hitter Josie Herring.
Top newcomers are outfielders Halah Davis, Emily Sgro and Veronica Goldberg, and utility player Taylor Snissen.
Shore had a tough opening game Wednesday, April 2, played after press time, when it faced division favorite St. John Vianney.
By Sean Simmons
MIDDLETOWN – The Mater Dei Prep softball team finished 24-4 last season, which was the best overall record in school history, and won the B Central Division title with a perfect 14-0 record.
The Seraphs also stunned Freehold Township, 3-1, to win the Monmouth County Tournament Blue Division championship but lost to Toms River East, 6-0, in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals.
“There are a lot of questions to be answered and holes that need to be filled,” Mater Dei Prep head coach Jeanne Dickinson said. “I will have three freshmen starting this season” – Paige Fernandez on the mound, Tyrah Graves at shortstop and Kaylee Anthony in center field.
Returning starters for the Seraphs this season are senior catcher Erin Batz, senior outfielder Audrianna Miller, senior third baseman Emilie Boman, junior outfielder Brooke Trotta, junior second baseman-shortstop Jaime Luminoso and sophomore first baseman-outfielder Maggie Klatt.
Returning lettermen for the Seraphs this season are senior first baseman Stephanie Sudziarski, senior outfielder Ashley Glynn, senior second baseman Tara Schneider, senior third baseman Maddie Hourican, sophomore catcher Samantha Cavalli and sophomore outfielder Kate Aumack.
The best of the newcomers for the Seraphs this season are freshman first baseman/outfielder Caroline Hourican, freshmen outfielders Samantha Cerrato, Jayme Lewandowski and Stephanie Sacharanski, and Fernandez, Graves and Anthony.
“The potential for this team is outstanding, but the question remains as to whether they’ll reach that potential,” Dickinson said. “A lot will be expected from key returners (Batz, Boman, Miller and Trotta) and from key reserves (Sudziarski, Schneider, Glynn, Aumack, Cavalli and the Hourican sisters).”
The Seraphs opened their season Tuesday, April 1, with win at home over Keyport.
Middletown North Looks to Be ‘Very Competitive’
By Sean M. Simmons
MIDDLETOWN – The Middletown North Lions were tri-champions in A North last season with crosstown rival Middletown South and Freehold Township and finished with an overall record of 12-10.
Returning players for the Lions this season are senior first baseman-pitcher-third baseman Amanda Kanski, senior outfielder Jamie Trewhella, senior outfielder-pitcher Audrie Thomas, senior outfielders-third basemen Kate Quinn and Jillian Wallrabe, junior catcher Quinn Thornton, junior second baseman-shortstop Nikki Alfano, sophomore first baseman-outfielder Christine Gebhardt and sophomore outfielder Taylor Apel.
Newcomers are sophomore outfielder-second baseman Payleigh Behan, freshman catcher-first baseman-outfielder Kayla Gallo, freshman catcher-third baseman Ryan Rasmussen, freshman outfielder Emily Kernan, freshman outfielder-pitcher Riley Kernan and freshman outfielder-second baseman Elizabeth Dorsa.
“We are looking to be very competitive in A North again this season,” Middletown North head coach Mallory Kirchner said.
The Lions will open their season Friday, April 4, at home against Freehold Township.
Seven Starters Returning for RBC Softball Season
By Jim Hintelmann
RED BANK – Red Bank Catholic, which has had one of the Shore’s top softball programs for years, had a somewhat down season by its lofty standards last year with a 17-11 record, but coach Tony Flego expects a better record this season with seven starters returning.
“We played in a very good division (A Central) with teams like SJV (St. John Vianney), Manasquan and Raritan,” Flego said, “but I think we can hold our own this year.”
The seven lettermen back are catcher-first baseman Brynne Bauman, who hit well over .400 a year ago, pitcher Jen Mancino, second baseman Briana DelGuidice, pitcher-first baseman Gabby Bram, infielder Lindsay Benitez and catcher-outfielder Tess Griswold.
“We haven’t hit that well in the preseason, but I think that the cold weather had something to do with that,” the coach said. “I’ve also been moving players around.”
Top newcomers are outfielders Brianna Hagan and Maggie Rue, third baseman-outfielder Allie Savino, second baseman-outfielder Lauran Szulc, first baseman Mary Klecko and utility player Amanda Savino.
“We’ll have to play extremely good defense and communicate well to have a good season” Flego said, “but I think we’ll be better this year.”
Defense Expected to be Key to RBR Softball Success
By Jim Hintelmann
LITTLE SILVER –- With eight starters from last year’s 15-10 squad returning, it isn’t too surprising that Red Bank Regional softball coach Denise D’Esposito has an optimistic outlook this season.
“We have a nice hitting team that can also play small ball,” D’Esposito said. “That makes us more versatile.”
The team looks to be a contender in the B Division North this year.
“We have our entire infield returning so the defense should be good,” D’Esposito said.
The Lady Bucs look strong on the mound with the return of Katie Serkus, who should get the school record for career wins with 18.
Also back are outfielder Briell Pennington, third baseman Brianna Calbrese, first baseman Jess Stevenson, catcher Kaylee Hartman, second baseman Jamie Mannino, outfielder Jess Scotti, shortstop Srividya Tyler and designated hitter Darby Olex-Memoli.
Top newcomer will be second baseman Lauren Terpak.
Red Bank opened its season Wednesday, April 2, against Neptune.
Seasoned Squad Returns for Middletown South Softball
By Sean Simmons
MIDDLETOWN –The Middletown High School South softball team finished last season with an overall record of 18-10 and have a number of strong players coming back this season.
The Eagles will be a force to be reckoned with in the A North Division this season.
“We return eight starters with a seasoned pitcher in (Tiffani) Lambert and were A North Tri-Champions last season,” Middletown South head coach Tom Erbig said. “Things have looked better this season on the offensive side and we always play solid defense.”
Returning for the Eagles this season are senior catcher Veronica Zega, senior centerfielder Grace Heller, junior catcher-first baseman Hannah Milano, junior left fielder Julia Beck, junior outfielder Phoenix Starick, junior second baseman Erin Cotterell, junior shortstop Alex Corrigan and Lambert, a junior.
The newcomers for the Eagles are junior infielder-outfielder Taylor Dreuer, junior second baseman-shortstop Nicki Curran, sophomore first baseman-outfielder Ally Massa, sophomore outfielder Ciara Sullivan, sophomore pitcher Maddie McMahon and sophomore third baseman Julia Blarr.
“With a more mature team, we should be able to compete for a division championship and also be a contender for the CJ Group III and Shore Conference titles,” Erbig said.
The Eagles were scheduled to open up their season away on Wednesday, April 2, against Manalapan.