It should be another strong season for South Jersey H.S. softball teams

by Marc Narducci | Apr 16, 2023
It should be another strong season for South Jersey H.S. softball teams
This looks to be another big year for high school softball teams from the seven-county South Jersey area. In NJ.com’s preseason Top 20, there were four area teams in the Top 10 and five in the Top 20.

Any talk about dominance starts with Haddon Heights, which made a late season run to earn the state Group 2 championship last year and then was the surprising winner in the Tournament of Champions. (The NJSIAA has discontinued the TOC).

Heights has most of its team back, beginning with sophomore Sophia Bordi, who hit nine home runs last season, struck out 307 and had a 0.57 ERA. Bordi continues to demonstrate her competitive talents by leading Heights to a 4-0 start within the first week of the season. 

The Garnets also have one of South Jersey’s top seniors in shortstop-pitcher, Maddy Clark, and one of the best juniors in outfielder-pitcher Gracie Granate.

The team is led by former Heights standout Michelle Hastings, who is regarded among the top coaches in South Jersey. To prepare for a difficult season, the Garnets have maintained a heavy training schedule. Besides a strong Colonial Conference slate that includes the likes of Sterling and Audubon, Heights has beaten one Group 4 team in Rancocas Valley and has other strong teams on the schedule such as Kingsway and Cherokee.

The other preseason ranked teams from the area are No. 3 Egg Harbor Township, No. 7 Bordenton, No. 10 Clayton and No. 20 Lenape.

Egg Harbor is the defending South Jersey Group 4 champion despite losing 2-1 against Watchung Hills in the Group 4 State championship last year.

The Eagles, who went 3-0 in the first week of this season, have one of South Jersey’s top pitchers in junior Madison Dollard, who had a 0.35 ERA in her first three games this season.

Bordentown is the defending Central Jersey Group 2 champion and many anticipate another meeting in the state semifinals against Haddon Heights.

The Scotties went 24-2 last year and saw their season end with a 3-0 loss in eight innings to Haddon Heights in the state Group 2 semifinal.

Senior Allison Hoppe is among the top pitchers in South Jersey.

Clayton is the two-time defending state Group 1 champion. The Clippers have a powerhouse team, but another South Jersey team, Gloucester Catholic, beat them this year in the second game of the season, 4-3.

Lenape is led by senior Maya Knasiak, who helped the Indians to the Olympic American title last year and had a 0.67 ERA.

To demonstrate how good the South Jersey talent is, Paul VI just beat Lenape, 7-3 in the championship of the Ron Vinick Tournament in Millville. Count Paul VI as another team to look for this year.

There could be other teams from the area that emerge as viable sectional or state title contenders.

 

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Author: Marc Narducci

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