SJV softball, RBC baseball reach South Jersey Non-Public A finals
St. John Vianney’s softball team and Red Bank Catholic’s baseball team are currently ranked No. 1 in the state by NJ.com. But the Lancers have not won a NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A sectional title since 2018; and the Caseys have never won one, although they did win Non-Public B in 1997.
Both have opportunities to rectify that, as 3rd-seeded SJV, Holmdel, hosts 4th-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas, Edison, in the softball sectional final 3 p.m. June 2; and top-seeded RBC hosts 2nd-seeded St. Joe’s, Metuchen, in the baseball final 11 a.m. June 3. The winners play the North Jersey A champion for the state crown next week.
The Lancers (25-1) advanced by beating Notre Dame, Lawrenceville, 2-1. The Trojans (23-3), ranked No. 7, advanced with an 8-2 upset over three-time defending state champion Donovan Catholic, Toms River. The Griffins were ranked No. 1 at the time.
“I was surprised at that,” SJV third baseman Holly Lovett said. “No matter who won that game, it’s gonna be a really good ballgame Friday. To know a team that’s been that dominant the last three years can have a score like that, it shows anybody can win on any given day.”
St. Thomas features junior pitcher Hayley Wieczerzak, who’s 21-2 with a 0.86 ERA and 298 strikeouts. She faced SJV in last year’s sectional and allowed 10 hits and four runs in a 7-6 Trojans win.
“Haley is a friend of mine, she’s really good and she’s continued to get better,” Lovett said. “She brings it. But when we win games it’s less about the pitcher and more about how good we are as a team. We know we can handle anybody.”
SJV averages 11 runs per game and has a team average of .443 with 46 home runs. It scratched out two fifth-inning runs against ND’s Rylee Michalak, one of the state’s top hurlers, and held on thanks to clutch pitching by freshman Madison McDougall. The daughter of head coach Kim Lombardi-McDougall, Madison survived three bases-loaded jams and stranded 12 ND runners on base.
“She’s had to deal with me her whole life so I’m pretty sure she could handle good, bad or other kinds of pressure,” Lombardi-McDougall said. “We tell all my freshmen to play like juniors. She’s handling herself this year. She’s confident, she knows her teammates are gonna make plays behind her. You give us a couple runs and we’re very confident we’re gonna win.”
Madison was inspired by her mom, an ace pitcher in her time, and her teammates.
“My mom was never afraid to go out and pitch a big game, so I kind of got that energy from her,” McDougall said. “I also get it from my team, they always pick me up. They make the plays and hit behind me.”
McDougall is part of a young team with just two senior starters, and Lovett loves it.
“All this youth brings a childlike energy to the game that makes it so much fun,” the senior said. “It makes the entire game more lively, more enjoyable.”
The Trojans are also young, but their lone senior is dangerous as Mary-Kate Murray is hitting .471 with 14 homers.
“I know they’re pretty good, it depends on who hits and who fields better,” Maddy McDougall said. “The stronger we come out, the stronger we’ll finish.”
The same can be said for RBC (23-5), which gained revenge against St. Augustine, Richland, with an 8-1 semifinal win. Frank Scrivanic and Shane Andrus had two RBIs each and Steve Svenson pitched a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts. The Caseys lost a gut-wrenching, 6-5 final against the Hermits two years ago.
“That was nice, especially for the seniors because they were sophomores and in big spots in that loss,” coach Buddy Hausmann said. “They remember that game very well and how their senior teammates felt after it. They didn't want that feeling. It's a game that haunted them and they were up for the challenge.”
St. Joe’s (21-9), ranked No. 8, advanced with an 11-3 win over Notre Dame. RBC has beaten the Falcons in the teams’ two other meetings in the 2021 and 2018 states. St. Joe’s offense is led by seniors Mark Gialluisi (.500 average, 25 stolen bases, 34 runs scored) and Robbie Carvelli (.363, 3 HR, 30 RBIs).
Hausmann will pitch Alex Stanyek, who was outstanding in the Shore Conference Tournament final.
“Alex always gives us a good shot when he’s on the mound,” Hausmann said. “St. Joe’s is a very good team that's well coached. They have a very good lineup that puts up a lot of runs.”
The Caseys are hitting the ball better of late and have won 14 of 16.
“We are playing pretty well right now,” Hausmann said. “The lineup is working well together and having good at bats. We are in a good
spot right now for this time of the year.”
The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.