During the preseason, Freehold Township had some difficulty hitting the ball.
All that was forgotten on Monday as the Patriots busted open a tie game using the long ball and went on to open the season with a 7-2 victory over Shore Conference Class A North rival Manalapan.
“It was pretty freaky, because we went 3-9 in scrimmages and couldn’t even get down our bunts,” said head coach Beth English, whose squad scored a run in the fourth inning and four more in the sixth. “Our hits were scattered, but this was such a collective team win for us and I’m really happy for the girls. It was nice to see them break through.”
Juniors Amanda Freyre and Marissa Barnes broke through in a big way, slamming their first career home runs. Freyre delivered a solo shot to left field on a 1-0 count that snapped a 2-2 tie in the top of the fourth. With the bases loaded in the sixth, Barnes crushed a 3-2 pitch to center field after fouling off four pitches, putting the Patriots (1-0, 1-0) up by five.
Senior pitcher Jordyn White secured the victory from there, as she allowed eight hits and three walks while striking out eight.
“I have a pretty quiet group and I’m usually the loud one,” English said. “But when Marissa hit her grand slam our girls got really loud. It was overwhelming. This was a good win for us.”
In the bottom of the third, Manalapan senior Caitlin Gee, who had seven strikeouts while taking the loss in the pitcher’s circle, swatted a solo home run to tie the game at 2-2.
MIDD. SOUTH 6, MIDD. NORTH 5: Trailing 5-0 heading into the sixth inning, the Eagles scored six times during their last two at-bats to edge their crosstown rivals in an A North clash.
Behind 5-3 with two outs in the top of the seventh, Alex Corrigan and Julia Beck, who went 2-for-3, each reached base on errors before senior pitcher Alli Podmajersky singled to left to load the bases for Abbey Schulz, who drilled a double into the left-center field gap to clear the bases and give the Eagles the victory.
Podmajersky fanned five and walked four to grab the win, while North junior Audrie Thomas struck out three and walked two. The Lions’ Christine Gebhardt, Julie Gross and Kristi Micelli each had two hits.
MARLBORO 3, HOWELL 2: The Mustangs got all of their hits and scored all of their runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to grab an A North victory over the Rebels.
Trailing by two, Marlboro got itself going when Bonnie Picone walked to lead off the sixth, and went to third when Brianna Brienza dropped a sacrifice bunt and an error allowed both runners to advance. After a wild pitch scored Picone and put Brienza on third, the Mustangs tied the contest when Samantha Brinskelle dropped a successful suicide squeeze.
A single by Jaymee Fried put runners on first and second before Sam Seratelli reached on an error, which allowed Brinskelle to race home with the winning run. Brinskelle then finished off the Rebels from the pitcher’s circle, completing the victory with five strikeouts and no walks.
RARITAN 6, HOLMDEL 0: Junior pitcher Emily Schaffer went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two RBI, Bethany Evans whacked a three-run home run and Brianna Rinaldi went 2-for-2 with a triple as the Rockets opened with a Class A Central win. Schaffer struck out 13 and walked just one from the circle.
MATAWAN 11, LONG BRANCH 2: Trailing 1-0 heading into the fourth, the Huskies went on a scoring spree during their last four at-bats to roll past the Green Wave in a Class B North battle.
Freshman Hadassah Curry went 3-for-4, while Erin Gray added two hits and three RBI for Matawan. Winning pitcher Erin Powers had 10 strikeouts.
OCEAN 5, NEPTUNE 0: The Spartans scored twice in the third to put up all the runs they needed in a B North contest.
Senior pitcher Gianna Kinhofer fired 10 strikeouts and walked one in the shutout, and swatted a single to earn career hit No. 99.
FREEHOLD 13, SHORE 3: The Colonials erased a one-run deficit in the bottom of the third with an eight-run barrage, then cruised to the B North victory.
Gabby Romanowski, Taylor Spallanzani and Sara Camilli each had two hits and a double for Freehold, while the Blue Devils’ Lauren Shirley went 3-for-4 with a solo home run in the fourth.