FRANKLIN TWP.-- It may just be the second week of April, with only four games played, but Delsea has its eyes on the final prize.
The Crusaders, who came up short in the South Jersey Group 3 semifinals a year ago, downed Haddon Heights 7-0 on Friday to improve to 4-0.
The most impressive part of Delsea’s start is its defensive performance. The Crusaders have outscored their opponents 29-1, with the lone run coming on April 5 at Triton.
“It’s good to start this way and we’re just going to keep runs to a minimum,” Delsea pitcher Anastasia Reale said. “That was one of our goals this season. We want to score a lot and not give up a lot."
Reale is the calming force on the team from the circle to the dugout, although she admittedly keeps the energy up in a unique way.
“I am really big in getting in my rhythm,” Reale said. “I’ll pace around the mound and hit the ball in my hand. People make fun of me, but it’s just how I am. I just keep my energy up, Even in the dugout I keep my energy up. I need to keep my energy because that sets my mind. I get a rhythm and go with it.”
“(Anastasia)’s doing awesome for us,” third baseman Miranda Booras said. “Her getting those strikeouts and keeping us all up, her in that rhythm and energy gets us all up.”
On a day like Friday, it was pitching and defense the Crusaders relied on, as they didn’t get their bats going until the sixth.
Delsea is quite comfortable with playing a defensive game and patiently waiting for a big inning to break out offensively.
“I’m so proud of my defense,” Reale said. “It’s nice to have that support behind you and you don’t have to worry that much when you’re pitching because you know you have a good support system that has your back.”
“We know how to pick ourselves up at bat or we know how to pick ourselves up in the field if we’re not batting,” Booras said. “We have to get in that rhythm.”
When they did explode on offense in the sixth, the Crusaders used a barrage of timely hitting. Monica Allonardo, Madison Kelly and Kaylin Power all contributed RBI singles and Booras chipped in with a sacrifice fly.
Before the bats got going, there was no panic setting in with the confident Crusaders. It’s an approach that helps them in the short and long term.
“We’re working toward keeping no errors, no mental mistakes,” Booras said. “That’s what we’re looking for, focusing on the small stuff taking it inning by inning.”
Delsea has already set the tone for the season with a 4-0 record, earning it in dominant fashion. And although they’re taking it game by game, the Crusaders know where they want to be at the end of the season.
“We know we can do better than we did last year,” Booras said. “We know we want to go farther and we’re better than we were last year and we can definitely work harder.”