A look at public school softball

by Marc Narducci | May 24, 2021
A look at public school softball The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) softball state tournament begins next week. The teams will be officially seeded later this week, but power points, which appear on NJ.com, give an indication where teams will be seeded.

Round one of the South Jersey tournament is June 1. The public school sectional finals will be June 12 at the site of the higher seed.

The public school state finals are June 18 and June 19.

In softball, there is also a tournament of champions, where the four public school and two Non-Public state champions play to determine the best team in the state. That will be done staged on June 20.

Here is a look at the four public school groups.

SJ Group 4 Kingsway will be the top seed and the Dragons are going to be the favorite. The Dragons began the week with a 16-1 record. As with most softball powers, Kingsway has strong pitching. Senior Mariana Costello has been the main pitcher but junior Tori Griffiths, who is also a field hockey standout, has also delivered on the mound.

A team to watch is Gloucester County Institute of Technology, known as Gloucester Tech. Led by pitcher Rylee Lutz, Gloucester Tech owns a 3-0 win over Kingsway and began the week with a 10-3 mark.

Perennial contender Washington Township (13-5) can never be counted out.

SJ Group 3 Central Regional (14-4 to begin the week), Hammonton (15-0) and Seneca (11-1) are considered the three leading contenders.

Seneca has played a difficult schedule and that should help the Golden Eagles. So should the presence of senior pitcher Emily Spencer, who had 128 strikeouts in 68 innings,

Hammonton will be a worthy challenger, but the Blue Devils’ haven’t played the schedule to match a school such as Seneca.

As for Central Regional, this is a school that competes in the highly competitive Shore Conference and one that has split two games with a strong Group 4 Jackson team.

There could be other Group 3 contenders, but these expect to be the main ones.

SJ Group 2 This Group has a distinct Colonial Conference flavor. Audubon began the week 14-0. Other Colonial team among the top eight in power points were Haddon Heights (9-3), Sterling (8-4) and West Deptford (9-7).

Veteran coach Erin Small usually has Audubon as a contender and this year is no different. The Green Wave had won 11 of their first 14 games by five runs or more.

Junior outfielder Diane Medler, was hitting .500 to begin the week in leading a potent Audubon offense.

Haddon Heights and Sterling have split their two games against each other, while West Deptford which has lost twice to Audubon, has played among the toughest schedules in Group 2, with non-league games against Group 4 Washington Township, Shawnee and favored Kingsway. This type of challenging schedule should help the Eagles in the state tournament,

Among the other Group 2 teams to watch are Cedar Creek, Delran and Oakcrest.

SJ Group 1 This has a distinct Tri-County Conference look, with five of the top six teams in the most recent power ratings, from this conference.

That includes No. 1 Clayton, No. 2 Gloucester, No. 4 Pennsville, No. 5 Schalick and No. 6 Overbrook.

The only non-Tri-County team in the top six is No. 3 Buena.

Clayton began the week 19-1, losing only to Group 3 Moorestown, 3-2 over the weekend.

The Clippers own a 4-2 win over a Gloucester team that is a perennial contender. Clayton, with no seniors, has two sophomores who have done the bulk of the pitching, Meadow Lake and Allyson Koerner,

Gloucester should be a serious contender as should Pennsville, which has lost twice to Clayton, but the second time by just a 2-1 score.

It would be a shock if a Tri-County Conference school didn’t emerge as sectional champion.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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