South Jersey H.S. Softball Preview: Non-Public A &B, Group 1

by Marc Narducci | May 10, 2023
South Jersey H.S. Softball Preview: Non-Public A &B, Group 1
The NJSIAA softball tournament will begin on May 22. There will be no Tournament of Champions, which was eliminated by the NJSIAA.

Sectional finals are June 3 at the highest seed and the state final is June 9 for Non-Public schools and June 10 for public schools. The state championships will all be held at Kean University. The cutoff date for seeding is May 17.

In the first of two previews, we will look at South Jersey Group 1 along with SJ Non-Public A and B.

South Jersey Group 1

Clayton is the two-time defending state Group 1 champion. The Clippers began the week 14-1 and were the top team in power points. 

Clayton suffered an early 4-3 loss this season to Gloucester Catholic but beat the Rams, 5-2 in the rematch.

Senior Allyson Koerner, who began the week with a 0.80 ERA and was averaging nearly two strikeouts per inning, is among the best pitchers around. 

Audubon, which lost to Clayton, 7-1 in last year’s South Jersey Group 1 final, could again be the Clippers biggest challenger. The Green Wave was No. 2 in power points to begin the week, one spot ahead of its Colonial Conference rival Haddon Township.

No. 4 Woodstown and No. 5 Buena also bear watching. Buena coach Pam Pickett just recorded her 700th career win and the Chiefs have won seven South Jersey titles during her time. 

South Jersey Non-Public A

Not surprisingly, this appears to be the deepest section among South Jersey teams. (Many of the teams in this Group aren’t from the seven-county South Jersey area, however).

St. John Vianney began the week as the top-seeded team with a 17-0 record, but watch out for No. 4 Donovan Catholic and No. 5 Notre Dame. Last week, Notre Dame handed Donovan Catholic its first loss in a 3-0 triumph. Donovan Catholic is the defending state champ and advanced to the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions before losing to Haddon Heights.

Of the teams from the seven-county South Jersey area, Paul VI, which began the week 14-3 and was third in power points, appears to have the best chance. 

Paul VI junior center fielder Lisey St. Jean has been one of the best hitters in the state. She began the week 41 for 56 (.732) with 33 runs scored and 13 stolen bases.

Junior Madison Cooley (2.51 ERA) and freshman Ava Nevius (1.76 ERA) have been a strong pitching duo for the Eagles. 

Other teams to watch in this loaded field include St. Thomas Aquinas, which was No. 2 to begin the week in power points, No. 6 Red Bank Catholic, No. 7 Immaculata and No. 8 Union Catholic. 

South Jersey Non-Public B

St. Joseph Hammonton is the defending South Jersey champion and began the week No. 1 in power points. The Wildcats beat Gloucester Catholic, 3-2 in last year’s sectional final.

Junior Ava Fisher, the winning pitcher in last year’s sectional final win over Gloucester Catholic, has done most of the mound duties for St. Joseph. She entered the week with a 2.72 ERA and is the main reason the Wildcats should be a major contender. 

Any of the top four teams in power points – No. 2 Wardlaw-Hartridge, No. 3 Holy Spirit and No. 4 Gloucester Catholic – are capable of winning this section.

Gloucester Catholic has played a difficult schedule and that should help the Rams prepare for the state tournament. 

Next week: SJ Group 2, 3 and 4. 

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Author: Marc Narducci

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