Who: Central Jersey champ Hillsborough (24-2) vs. South Jersey champ Washington Township (28-2).
When/Where: 4 p.m. today/New Egypt High School, New Egypt
How they got here: Hillsborough defeated Steinert 3-0 in the Central Group IV final. Washington Township defeated Shawnee 4-2 in the South Group IV final
Hillsborough report: The Raiders, who are making their first appearance in a group semifinal, set a school record with their 24th victory of the season Friday with their win over Steinert in the sectional final. Hillsborough is on a roll in the state tournament, having outscored its opponents 24-2 in four games, as pitchers Alexis Schengrund and Kelly Wishard have combined for 24 consecutive shutout innings. The Raiders have been led this season by Alexis Pezza, Alyssa VanDerveer, Donna Conrad and Alison Shimko, whose homer in the second inning of the sectional final proved to be the winning run. But Hillsborough has also received contributions from others throughout the lineup, including Taryn Grober, who went 2-for-2 with a double and two RBI in the win over Steinert. It will be those types of contributions that could be the difference today.
Washington Township report: Like their opponents today, the Minutemen have lost just twice this season – a 1-0 setback to three-time reigning Central Group II champ Robbinsville on April 28 after an 18-0 start to Washington Township’s season, and an inexplicable loss to Lenape on May 6, a team that finished its season just a game over .500. The Minutemen, who are seeking their first trip to a Group IV final since winning a state title in 2002, are led by Boston College-bound ace Taylor Coroneos, who has posted a 0.37 ERA, allowing just six earned runs, 48 hits, 46 walks and struck out 147 in just 112 innings. Senior Kristen Turner, who is batting .443 with 10 doubles, 10 homers and 42 RBI, leads the offense, along with sophomore Jessica Hughes (.494, 37 RBI), senior Kylie Mulholland (.472, 31 RBI) and junior Alyssa Cudeyro (.400, 6 HR 27 RBI). Coroneos has also had an impact on offense, carrying a .452 batting average. Hillsborough certainly has its work cut out for it against this South-Jersey juggernaut, and is going to have to do everything right to advance to Toms River.
Prediction: Washington Township 3-2