By Rich Fisher | Contributing Editor
After what they did for the St. John Vianney softball team over the past four years, Alexis Agrapides and Ally Jones deserved to go out with a championship.
The two did just that, rebounding from a gut-wrenching defeat to take a 4-3 victory over Donovan Catholic in the Shore Conference Tournament championship game at Count Basie Field in Red Bank June 3.
Two days earlier, SJV dropped a 3-2, 10-inning decision to the Griffins in the NJSIAA Non-Public A South championship game. In the eyes of most observers, they were the two best teams in the state and Donovan Catholic confirmed that when it was barely tested in going on to win the state title and Tournament of Champions crown.
Fittingly, Agrapides and Jones, the only four-year varsity seniors on the roster, loomed large in the SCT victory. After the Lancers battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits, Lindsey Hay homered in the top of the sixth to again give Donovan Catholic the lead.
“I remember coming to the dugout and I just saw [pitcher Julia Parker’s] face,” Agrapides said. “I knew she pitched an amazing game, a game we could end up winning for her. We needed to do something to put our team in a chance to win.”
Jess Campana ignited that chance with a leadoff double. Agrapides, already 3-for-3, maintained her perfect night by delivering a game-tying single.
“As soon as I saw the ball touch the ground,” she said, “I just felt so relieved that I got the job done.”
Haley Ahr singled Agrapides to third and the Villanova-bound Jones grounded out to score Alexis with the winning run.
“Ally is such a great player,” Agrapides said. “She’s gotten so many hits in big games, and she’s very good in the post-season.”
Parker then had to survive a knee-knocking seventh, as she faced Gatorade New Jersey Softball Player of the Year Karina Gaskins with two outs and a runner on second. Gaskins, who had 19 homers this year, hit a deep fly ball that centerfielder Mackenzie Bloss gloved to end it.
“As soon as I saw Mackenzie catch that ball it, was a great feeling to have, just to come back strong,” Agrapides said.
The SCT final was the latest in a long line of intense, entertaining games the two teams played over the past four years.
“It’s always great playing them because that’s the best kind of softball you can watch and play,” Hay said. “We both respect each other, but we’re both very determined to win. If I wanted to watch a game in New Jersey and I wasn’t on a team, that’s where I’d want to be. That’s the game to watch.”
“I agree 100 percent,” Agrapides said. “They went on to the TOC, and their championship game was 10-0. I wouldn’t want to watch that game. If anything I would want to watch our 3-2 game that went 10 innings, or our conference final. Those were the two best games we played all year and the two best games I’ve probably ever played in my four years playing here.”
Those seasons included a 103-7 record, four Monmouth County Tournament titles, two SCT crowns and one Non-Public A championship. Agrapides will play at Moravian next year, while other seniors playing college ball are Gabby Polera (University of Sciences), Campana (Gettysburg) and Jordan Pollak (Bloomfield).
“One hundred three and seven,” Agrapides said. “That’s a pretty crazy way to go out.”