Cherokee Softball: Rising Stars in South Jersey

by Marc Narducci | Apr 17, 2024
Cherokee Softball: Rising Stars in South Jersey
Cherokee traditionally fields one of South Jersey's most competitive softball programs, and this year is expected to be no exception.

Last year, the Chiefs finished 20-5 and placed second to Lenape in the always challenging Olympic Conference American Division. Cherokee also reached the South Jersey Group 4 championship game but fell to Kingsway, 9-3.

While Lenape, Eastern, and Rancocas Valley are expected to be strong contenders in both the American Division and SJ Group 4, Cherokee is likely to remain highly competitive.

The South Jersey Group 4 tournament promises to be tough, featuring not only the aforementioned teams from the American Division but also Kingsway, Egg Harbor Township, Southern Regional, Vineland, and Toms River North, among others.

Nevertheless, Cherokee isn't afraid of any competition. The Chiefs consistently play one of South Jersey's toughest schedules, and this year is no different.

Cherokee started the week with a 4-2-1 record. One loss was a close 9-8 game against a Notre Dame team that started the week 4-0 and was ranked No. 1 in the state by Another loss came against Paul VI, expected to be a Top 10 team in South Jersey.

The tie came in a 3-3 game against two-time defending Group 2 state champion Haddon Heights, which was called after nine innings due to darkness. The Chiefs tied the game with two runs in the seventh inning against Sophia Bordi, considered one of the state's top pitchers.

Following the tie, Cherokee won its next three games against Cherry Hill East, Cherry Hill West, and Washington Township by a combined score of 35-6.

What makes Cherokee particularly formidable is its strong sophomore class. The team's top pitchers are sophomores. Cali Taylor started the week with a 3.50 ERA in 28 innings* and an impressive 50 strikeouts. She pitched all nine innings in the tie against Haddon Heights.

As a freshman, Taylor pitched just 17 2/3 innings but showed promise by striking out 29. Classmate Allie Cunane has pitched 20 innings this season, twice her total from last year, and has struck out 24 batters this season.

Sophomores have also contributed significantly to Cherokee's offense. Sophomore Jordan Hreben entered the week batting .565, while Luci Dandrea (.458) and Kasey McNee (.423) were also key offensive contributors.

With such a young team gaining experience against a challenging schedule, Cherokee's future looks bright. But the present is also promising. If the young players continue to develop, Cherokee could be a formidable opponent come playoff time.

Author: Marc Narducci


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