A Three-Peat For Washington Twp Softball

by Marc Narducci; photo Marc Narducci | Jun 3, 2015
A Three-Peat For Washington Twp Softball Washington Township’s girls softball team showed that it is not impossible to three-peat, but it is certainly not an easy task.

The Minutemaids improved to 29-1 and earned their third consecutive South Jersey Group 4 title with a comeback 5-3 win over an extremely talented Kingsway team.

Washington Township overcame a 3-1 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, two driven in by senior shortstop Jessica Hughes (pictured).

A viable candidate for South Jersey (and state) player of the year, Hughes, who is headed to Fordham, had a two-run double and then scored on an ensuing throwing error to provide the final three runs.

That gave her 42 RBI, which tied for the team lead with third baseman Lauren Sandelier.

This is a Washington Township team that has tremendous balance.

Coach Tracy Burkhart talked about how any batter in the lineup is dangerous and the statistics back her up.

“Its been a total team effort with this group,” Burkhart said.

Township has six players with 15 or more RBIs entering the week. In addition to Hughes and Sandelier, the others are Erika Coreth (25), Dominique Palagruto (24), Dominique Fiorentino (18), and Kellianne Gaffney (15).

And in the win over Kingsway, Township got key hits from the bottom of the order by Samantha DiClementi, Briana Hoskins and Carli Egan, which paved the way for leadoff hitter Hughes to get her two-run double.

Another example of the depth is that Hoskins, a freshman centerfielder, bats eighth in the lineup and she began the week with 30 hits.

The Minutemaids have received outstanding pitching from Lauren Shannon, who pitched a complete game against Kingsway and improved to 22-1.

This was the first South Jersey Group 4 game this season that the Minutemaids were stretched to the limit. They were the No. 1 seed and opened with an 11-0 victory over Toms River East.

Then came a 6-2 victory over fellow Olympic Conference American Division foe Shawnee. Shannon pitched a complete game five-hitter while Sandelier was 3 for 4 with two runs and an RBI. That was followed by a 10-0 semifinal win over Rancocas Valley.

Yet second seeded Kingsway (23-5) proved to be a formidable sectional final opponent.

Kingsway and Washington Township are not only two of the dominant programs in Gloucester County, but on an annual basis in South Jersey as well. Since the advent of NJSIAA softball championships in 1976, both Kingsway and Washington Township have won three state titles.

Kingsway was the 2008 Group 3 state champ and the Dragons won consecutive Group 2 titles in 1998 and 1999, all under veteran coach Tony Barchuk.

In addition to its state title in 2013, Washington Township also won Group 4 crowns in 2002 and 1985.

These schools have great tradition and they put on one of the more entertaining and dramatic sectional championship games, one in which Township was able to use its overall balance and depth to secure.

Photo (Marc Narducci): Washington Township shortstop Jessica Hughes

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