The Cape-Atlantic League (CAL) is an athletic conference consisting of both parochial and public high schools located in Atlantic County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, and Gloucester County, New Jersey. The Cape-Atlantic League operates under the aegis of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. It was first established in 1949, and today it is composed of twenty-two schools, divided into anywhere from one to four divisions, depending on sport.
TOMS RIVER — St. Joseph High School’s softball team was painted into a tough spot.
Coach Candi Dean had to shift her girls into a new set of roles in Saturday afternoon's Non-Public B state final at Toms River North High School and her team fell to Immaculate Conception 5-0, falling short of its state title aspirations.
With the absence of top pitcher, Dominique D’Andrea, who was in Florida due to a commitment with a college recruiting camp, the Wildcats had an uphill climb.
First baseman Olivia Kerr said D’Andrea kept the calling to check in on their progress and was mad she could be at the game.
So, Dean called on sophomore shortstop Taylor Sirolli to try her luck in the circle. That lead to a whirlwind of changes including switches with two infield spots and two outfield spots.
Despite the defensive deck shuffing, the Wildcats committed just one error. As for Sirolli, despite giving up some runs (most of which came in the game's latter portion), she and fellow sophomore, Immaculate’s Sarah Piening, locked horns in a pitchers' duel.
The two opposing pitchers combined for nineteen strikeouts and four 1-2-3 innings. Neither pitcher allowed an extra base hit.
“I’m so proud of Taylor. I think she’ll always remember this day and it will be great for her next year,” coach Dean said after the game.
When asked what she thought about her team’s performance, Dean replied, “For the most part, I think we did everything right. It was one of those games where there was a blooper here, a ball just through the hole there, and that helped them get some quality rallies.”
As for the St. Joe offense, they looked destined to get to get the Immaculate sophomore early on. In each of the first two innings St. Joe’s had all the elements for successful rallies, except for the runs.
In the first, Carly Testa and Mikela Power worked walks but were left on base. Again in the second, St. Joe applied pressure. Kathryn Bromiley lead off the inning with a single. After a Cara Owsley sacrifice bunt, Alyssa Halt walked and Testa got on again, this time with a single.
However, Piening nullified each threat en route to her complete game shutout.
“It stinks losing, but the season has been hard and great,” said Kerr after the game. She said her team was a family, having played together for two years. Not a single senior was on St. Joe's 2013 squad, and the returnees put a lot of effort into making this season special.
Sorrelli was visibly down after the game, but when she was asked to reflect on how the playoff run went. “We came into playoffs and tried to make it feel like we were just playing regular games. We kept battling and battling. We played really well on defense. We hit well. We never gave up in any game and always had each other’s backs. It was amazing.”
WASHINGTON TWP. — On most Fridays in the summer people from the region head east on the Atlantic City Expressway to enjoy a weekend at the Jersey shore.
On this particular Friday, Atlantic City High School's softball team headed west to face off against Washington Township in the South Jersey Group 4 sectional final.
Atlantic City, the No. 16 seed in S.J. Group 4, brought a support group of over 100 people to Gloucester County but the Vikings had a tough task against the No. 2 seed Township. But the Cinderella Vikings' bats were no match for Township pitcher Jenna Mills, who tossed a complete-game shutout and allowed only four hits while striking out five.
With the game scoreless, Washington Township (23-4) got on the scoreboard its third at-bat and never looked back, adding two runs in both the fifth and sixth innings.
"We played well and got behind our pitcher. They hit the ball but we made a lot of good plays in the field'" said junior shortstop and lead-off hitter Jessica Hughes.
Junior KelliAnne Gaffney started Township's scoring going 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and two RBIs. Hughes also went 2-for-3, scored twice and stole two bases. Hughes, who eclipsed 100 hits earlier this season, continued to be a force at the plate for Washington Township.
Township advances to Tuesday's state semifinal (4 p.m. at New Egypt) where the Minutemaids will face Hillsborough, a 6-4 winner over East Brunswick in Friday's Central Jersey Group 4 title game.
Atlantic City reeled off three straight road upsets to get to the title game and after starting the season at 5-10, the Vikings won eight of their last 11 games to finish the year with a .500 record at 13-13.