Gina Giaramita throws the ball to second base during a game against Asbury Park April 29. John Blaine photos
Gina Giaramita throws the ball to second base during a game against Asbury Park April 29. John Blaine photos

By Rich Fisher | Contributing Editor

It’s not often high school softball teams consider two sophomores the cornerstone of their lineup, but Mater Dei Prep is enjoying just such a situation this year with Gina Giaramita and Allie Massimino.

Photo Gallery: Mater Dei Prep softball game

The two not only give the Seraphs two outstanding hitters near the top of the lineup this year, they provide something to build around during the next two seasons.

“Having young players who make an impact is a tremendous blessing to our program,” first-year coach Tyler LaVine said. “Being able to pencil Giaramita and Massimino in the two and three spots every game day makes my job that much easier. Despite the incredible impact they are already having on our program, there are only bigger things to come. They are poised to be fixtures in our lineup for the next few years, and I look forward to seeing them grow as athletes, students and people.”

Upon meeting their first day of high school, the young women became fast friends through softball and realized they could be in the middle of something special that’s blossoming on the Middletown campus.

“We were still a new team with a lot of freshmen and sophomores,” Giaramita said of last year’s 3-12 squad. “I know our team can be really good, and I can’t wait to see what else we can do as we keep going.”

Through Mater Dei’s 5-5 start as of April 29, Giaramita led the team in hitting (.571), RBI (23), doubles (5), triples (2), hits (20) and runs (16), while Massimino was second in hitting (.500), RBI (21), runs (15) and hits (16). Giaramita has built off a stellar freshman year in which she batted .491 with five home runs and 27 RBI, while Massimino has erupted after batting .255 with nine RBI last season.

“It took a lot of work to get where I am,” said Massimino, who plays third base and backs up Giaramita at catcher. “I’ve taken a lot of hitting classes. I’ve always been very decent at judging a pitch and being able to track it, but [the improvement has] definitely been in my swing. It’s been finding the power in my legs and in my hands.”

Unlike many good high school hitters, the Freehold resident does not play travel ball. She started in rec at age 10 but dismissed travel to focus on her school work and oil paintings.

“I paint landscapes, and kind of do it just as a hobby,” she said. “It helps me relax, that’s why I keep going back to it.”

She is also a member of St. Mary Parish, Colts Neck, saying she and her family, “try to be the best Catholics we can be.”

Giaramita, a Middletown resident, is a veteran travel ball player, having performed for the New Jersey Flames, Jersey Shore Huskies, Hazlet Hawks and Middletown Lady Lions. That kind of groundwork had her ready-made for Shore Conference competition.

“In travel, I worked really hard,” Giaramita said. “Coming into high school, I thought it would be sort of the same as travel with the pitching and stuff. I knew there would be a lot of good pitchers and a lot of good teams. I was confident in myself, knowing that I’ve seen the pitchers that are really fast, and I felt like I could do it because I was used to seeing it.”

Giaramita belongs to St. Mary Mother of God Parish, Middletown. “God is such a big part of my life,” she said. “Without him, none of this would be really happening.”