Rosie LaGrotta etched her name in the record book forever Friday night.
The junior pitcher tossed a three-hit shutout for career victory No. 59, becoming the all-time win leader in the history of the Sacred Heart High School softball program with a 2-0 triumph over Gloucester Catholic under the lights at Cunningham Park.
LaGrotta said she had her eyes focused on the win record, previously held by Kylie Kristovich in 2010, since the day she joined the Lions.
“It’s a good feeling, amazing really,” she said moments after the milestone victory. “It feels good because it will always be mine, nobody will ever break it because the school is closing.”
“We wanted to get this game for her,” senior Lindsay Dwyer said. “We played an outstanding game behind her too. It was a great team win, probably our best of the season.”
And it was vintage LaGrotta for the record-breaker.
The right-hander constantly busted Gloucester Catholic hitters inside and then pulled the string on an absolutely nasty change-up, creating some weak groundouts and pop-ups.
“She kept her cool like she always does and she had perfect placement on her change-up,” junior catcher Danielle Lugo said.
LaGrotta limited a good hitting Rams’ squad to three singles, including two that stayed in the field, along with one strikeout and one walk.
“I don’t care what their record is (12-9), that’s a dangerous team,” Sacred Heart coach Les Olson said. “Rosie did a great job out there.”
Sacred Heart (23-3), winners in 10 of its last 11 games, provided its pitcher with plenty of defensive support.
Gabby Castellini made several tough running catches in center field, Kyrsten Makos took extra bases away with a catch down the right-field line and shortstop Kelly Hullihen and second baseman Samantha Caterina turned a crisp 6-4-3 double play.
LaGrotta’s gem was played in a brisk 68 minutes. The game was so quick that the lights almost didn’t take effect on the field.
Gloucester Catholic’s Abby Merryman matched LaGrotta pitch for pitch through five innings before the Lions finally broke through in the sixth.
Lugo started the rally with a one-out single and senior Samantha Caterina followed with a base knock. One out later, freshman Kaila Smith hit a hot smash down to third base that couldn’t be handled and the RBI single scored Lugo. Dwyer added an insurance run with an RBI single to right.
Sacred Heart was also pumped up about the win for another reason. The Lions had been 0-6 against Gloucester Catholic over the last 10 years.
“We wanted to beat them so badly, especially for coach,” Dwyer said. “They mercy-ruled us in my freshman year and beat us again last year. This win meant a lot to us.”
It was also a great start to a special weekend for Sacred Heart.
The team honored its juniors — LaGrotta, Lugo and Castellini — in a ceremony before Friday’s game. The program will honor past players with an alumni game at 4 p.m. today before another ceremony to celebrate Senior Night and the alumni before the contest with Middle Township.