By Simeon Pincus
RARITAN TOWNSHIP – The Hunterdon Central High School softball team, especially its class of six seniors, endured losing seasons the past two years, the program’s first sub-.500 finishes since the mid-1980s. This year, those veterans have taken it upon themselves to help right the ship and Friday’s game was the perfect of example of the seniors stepping up when their team needed them most.
Senior shortstop Ally Hernandez finished with two hits, two runs and two RBIs and she and her classmates accounted for five of Central’s six hits. Senior right-hander Karissa Zubulake, meanwhile, held Immaculata to just one earned run on five hits, walked two and struck out five as Hunterdon Central topped Immaculata 7-2 Friday.
Hernandez notched the Red Devils’ first hit off Spartans freshman ace Alanna Pearson, a leadoff triple off the right-field fence in the fourth inning, and it certainly got her team going. Hernandez was knocked in on a groundout by senior Jess McGuire and Central exploded for six runs in the following inning, highlighted by Hernandez’s two-run single.
“We really needed to get a spark to get the hits going,” said Hernandez, who was a freshman on the 2012 team that went to the state Group IV final. “And once that happened we just jumped on it and didn’t let up, and we kept scoring runs.”
“I didn’t name a captain; I named all six of them,” said Hunterdon Central first-year coach Kelly Karp, whose team improved to 5-2. “They’re my leaders. The younger girls follow what they do. If they (the seniors) are down, the (younger girls) are down. It’s a ripple effect. So they’ve been really key in keeping the rest of the team up and getting everyone going.”
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