HOLMDEL – During St. John Vianney’s 12-0 softball rout of Pinelands in the Shore Conference Championship game two weeks ago, SJV shortstop Jackie Gallagher smacked a 2-run single in the fifth inning of what turned out to be the last at bat of her scholastic career.
It was a proper way for Gallagher to go out since she has been a three-sport standout in softball, basketball and field hockey for the Lady Lancers all four years at the school.
The game was important for the Lady Lancers since they had been upset by Immaculate Heart Academy in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public A final the day before.
Fortunately, the Shore Conference title game gave SJV a chance to close out a 26-2 season with a big win.
“We just didn’t hit in the (Immaculate Heart Academy) game,” said Gallagher, who will be attending Fairfield University in Connecticut in the fall. “You have to give credit to their pitcher. She pitched a great game, but we couldn’t let this season end with back-to-back losses.”
Gallagher closed out the year by batting .458, including 44 hits and 32 RBIs. For her career she collected 157 hits and knocked in 107 runs.
“Jackie is a very calm player and never gets rattled,” SJV softball coach Kim Lombardi said. “She is a dominant force either with her bat or in the field.”
Going into the season, SJV was expected be a state power with a veteran team, but it lost several key players, including ace pitcher Katie Berriont during the preseason, due to injuries.
“We missed Berriont,” Gallagher said, “but Ashley Ventura stepped in and did a great job for us. We had a lot of confidence in her.”
Ventura, a sophomore, went 26-2 with a 0.45 earned run average and 20 shutouts as SJV won the Lady Buc Tournament and A Central championships in addition to the Shore Conference title.
Gallagher was coming off a great season in basketball where she helped the Lady Lancers to a 24-6 record despite playing in what was probably the state’s strongest division (Shore Conference A Central) with state powers Red Bank Catholic, Manasquan and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional. In addition, its non-conference schedule included New York City powers Christ the King and Archbishop Molloy.
“It was fun playing those teams,” said Gallagher, a point guard who averaged 8.5 points, two assists and two steals per game while leading the team with 3-pointers with 53, including five in a state tournament game against Gloucester Catholic. “It helped us get ready for the states.”
SJV girls basketball coach Dawn Karpel said Gallagher “has great shooting ability. She is also our best defender and we use her to guard the other team’s point guard. She does a good job of disrupting the other team’s offense.”
SJV didn’t achieve two of its goals this season, losing a tough overtime decision to Manasquan in the Shore Conference title game and then being upset by Immaculate Heart Academy in the Non-Public A title game.
The loss of Beriont, a 6-0 senior center who tore her ACL in SJV’s opening game in the states, proved costly.
“We had a smaller team against IHA and they had a tall girl that was going to Villanova,” Gallagher said. “We couldn’t contain her.”
Despite her skills in basketball and softball, it was field hockey that was her best sport. Gallagher, a center midfielder, will be playing the sport at Fairfield.
“I played soccer until I was in the sixth grade,” Gallagher said. “Some of my friends suggested that I try field hockey. I did and I really enjoyed it.”
As a freshman, Gallagher didn’t start varsity field hockey, but coach Kate Conlon moved her up to varsity two weeks into the season in a game against Holmdel. It’s where she made an immediate impact.
“I played her at striker on the corner play,” Conlon said. “We won that game in overtime. Jackie is blessed with natural athletic ability, has a good work ethic and a lot of will and determination.”
Gallagher’s best season in field hockey came during her junior year when the Lady Lancers finished 13-5-2 and made it to the Shore Conference semifinals before losing to Rumson in overtime.
SJV also made it to the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II semifinals but lost, 3-2, to unbeaten Madison Borough.
Gallagher scored 16 goals and had 13 assists as a senior, but SJV was in a rebuilding year and failed to reach .500.
“We lost eight seniors and had a new coach,” said Gallagher, who is looking forward to playing at Fairfield.
“They have a good field hockey program and a good coaching staff.”