Tri-County Conference Should be a...

Tri-County Conference Should be a... Tri-County Conference Should be a Force in the Upcoming NJSIAA Softball Tournament

The NJSIAA softball tournament begins on May 22 and one thing is for sure–the Tri-County Conference will have a major presence.

Over the years we have written how strong the Trico is in softball and this year is no exception. According to the NJSIAA power ratings that run on NJ.com, The Trico has the top seeded team in South Jersey Group 4 and two of the top three in South Jersey Group 3.

The seeds are expected to be official sometime next week.

Kingsway is the top seed in South Jersey Group 4 and the Dragons have one of the top pitchers in junior Grace Fagan, who has already committed to Mississippi State. Entering the week she was 14-3 with a 1.27 ERA. Any team with a top-flight pitcher has to be considered a major contender and that is certainly the case for Kingsway, although Group 4 is a loaded field.

In the latest Group 3 power ratings, the Tri-County’s Cumberland is No. 1, with Delsea, No. 3. Mainland was the No. 2 team.

Kingsway and Cumberland have split two low scoring games this year. On April 7, Kingsway earned a 3-1 victory over Cumberland. The Colts earned revenge on May 1 with a 3-1 victory.

In the Cumberland win Jackie Lesher went the distance, allowing just the one run on five hits while striking out four and walking four. Fagan allowed all four earned runs, but she did strike out 13, giving her 28 strikeouts in the two games with Cumberland.

In a highly anticipated opening day clash, Delsea stunned Cumberland, 7-0. The Colts, who began the week 11-5, have played a difficult schedule, which always helps teams prepare for the state tournament.

Besides splitting two games with Kingsway, Cumberland lost a 6-5 decision to Mainland despite receiving home runs from Lesher and Hailey Hulitt.

Delsea had only lost to two Group 4 powers in beginning the season 12-2. The losses were 3-2 to Washington Township and 9-3 to last year’s South Jersey Group 4 finalist Eastern.

There are also other top-flight Trico teams, including Clearview, which won 11 of its first 17 games and has played a difficult schedule. That includes a 4-3 loss to South Jersey Group 4 contender Millville and a 10-3 defeat to defending South Jersey Group 4 champion and one of this year’s favorites, Egg Harbor Township.

Two other Tri-County teams that are having underrated seasons, but which won’t be listed among the sectional contenders are Gloucester Catholic, Gloucester and Schalick. Gloucester Catholic was seeded seventh in an extremely deep South Jersey Non-Public A while Gloucester and Schalick were fourth and fifth respectively in SJ Group 1.

Whether any Trico teams win titles remains to be seen, but they should make plenty of noise in the upcoming playoffs.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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