Lancers come up short

Lancers come up short

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Lancers come up short

By

TOMS RIVER

An unlucky third inning derailed the St. John Vianney softball team’s chance of repeating as the NJSIAA Non-Public A state champion.

The Lancers allowed three runs, all in the same inning, and they never scored after Immaculate Heart Academy took the lead en route to a 3-0 loss in Saturday’s NJSIAA Non-Public A state final at Toms River East High School.

The Lancers made their third straight appearance and were aiming for their third straight NJSIAA Non-Public A state title.

“We came up short today,” St. John Vianney coach Kim Lombardi said. “Normally when we have people in scoring position, we are able to score people.”

The Lancers got a runner to third base four times in the game once in the first, fourth, sixth and seventh innings but couldn’t get one more play to push the runner across.

“I said to the girls going into the sixth inning that you have to score some runs. You can’t win obviously if you don’t score,” Lombardi said. “I’m very proud of my kids the way their season was but it is unfortunate the way our last two games panned out.”

IHA (32-0) did all the damage in the bottom of the third inning.

Angelina McGuire’s lead-off walk was followed by Daniella Ibarra’s bloop single and Carly Piccinich’s infield single to load the bases. Thomas, the No. 2 hitter, blasted a double to center field that pushed across two runs and the third run came across on a fielding error.

“It was kind of an unlucky hit that (Thomas got) and we needed to get solid hits,” said SJV pitcher Katie Beriont (21-3), who finished with five strikeouts. “We thought we could do so but today we just couldn’t pull through.”

“I scouted them and I knew that Otterman had a tremendous arm so we didn’t want to get the first out at home plate,” IHA coach Anthony LaRezza said. “I was actually holding the runner up but when the ball scooted by her, then obviously I was sending everybody.”

Those three runs set the tone for IHA, which lost to St. John Vianney last year in the NJSIAA Non-Public A state final.

“We knew we had to score as far as a psychological standpoint because of what happened to us last year when we came down here and got beat 10-2,” LaRezza said. “We had to score first and take the edge off us and put it more on them. Thankfully, we did that in the third inning.”

The Lancers had their opportunities.

In the top of the fourth, St. John Vianney (27-4) got a leadoff single by Cailin Winokur and Taylor August sacrificed her to second. A fielding error by IHA’s second baseman allowed Kristen Solari to reach and make it first and third with one out. Jackie Gallagher tried to bunt a run home but was tagged by the first baseman as she was running up the line. That made it second and third with two outs. IHA’s Thomas (27-0) then got a strikeout to end the threat.

In the sixth, the Lancers had second and third with no outs and Thomas got a pop up, a ground out and a strikeout to escape that inning.

In the seventh, the Lancers were down to their last out before Otterman, the No. 9 hitter, came through with a clutch hit and then took third on a two-base fielding error by the left fielder. However, Thomas escaped yet another jam when she got the last batter of the game to fly out to center field.

“The season as a whole was great,” Beriont said. “I just want to say that the seniors, all four of them, did well the entire season especially in this game by coming through with the big hits.”

IHA 3, SJ Vianney 0

SJV (27-4) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 1
IHA (32-0) 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 3 4 2

2B: (IHA) Thomas; 3B: (IHA) Piccinich; (WP) Thomas (27-0); LP: Beriont (21-3).

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