SJV softball wins first South Jersey Non-Public A title since 2018

June 3, 2023 at 11:03 p.m.
SJV softball wins first South Jersey Non-Public A title since 2018
SJV softball wins first South Jersey Non-Public A title since 2018

By Rich Fisher • Contributing Editor

 Madison McDougall may not love to make people nervous, but she does it anyway.

“But she doesn’t get nervous; it’s unbelievable,” her mom, St. John Vianney High softball coach Kim Lombardi-McDougall said with a laugh. “She has great poise on the mound for a freshman. I’m in the dugout throwing up 12 times and she’s out there having fun.”

It’s always fun to win, and McDougall and her teammates won the Holmdel school’s first NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A championship since 2018 with a 3-0 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas, Edison, at SJV June 2. 

But it didn’t come easy.

McDougall, who danced in and out of trouble in the semifinals at Notre Dame, cruised into the seventh before loading the bases with no outs. She barely flinched, however, getting a fielder’s choice on a third-to-home play, a strikeout and a pop-out to preserve the shutout and the win. 

It marked incredible poise for a freshman, who said after the Notre Dame game, “I feel experienced. I do not feel like a freshman at all. I started this game at four-years-old. I never put my head down.”

The hurler had her issues, allowing three hits, six walks and a hit batsman while striking out seven. But she worked her escape magic and got all the runs she needed in a two-run third inning when Belle Catalona walked, Giuliana Cardin sacrificed, and Holly Lovett and Gabby Gonzalez followed with RBI singles. SJV (27-1) tacked on one in the fourth when Catalona singled home Grace Colucci.
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While the sectional title was something Lombardi has experienced before, it was the first go-around for her current players.

“It’s awesome,” the veteran coach said. “It’s nice to know that the girls who have played for me the last three years now know what it feels like to be part of a program that can win. It’s really nice for the program, to get the girls back with competitiveness.

“And we have a group of kids who all get along. They’re team oriented … freshmen all the way through to the seniors.”

The lone senior starter is Lovett, who spoke of the significance of competing for the SJ crown after beating Notre Dame.

“It means everything to me to take what we have and put it on the highest stage of the state,” she said. “I’ve always been the type of player who comes out and gives everything I have but to be around a team like this – where every person on the field loves each other and has each other’s back – that’s what’s carrying us further than any talent. We believe in each other so much. I’ve never been around a team culture as strong as ours.”

SJV hopes to utilize that culture when it plays in the June 9 Non-Public A championship game, 4 p.m., at Kean University. The Lancers will meet the winner of the North Jersey final between Immaculate Heart Academy, Washington Township and Mount St. Dominic Academy, Caldwell. That game was suspended in the sixth inning with MSD leading, 5-4, and will resume on June 5.

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 Madison McDougall may not love to make people nervous, but she does it anyway.

“But she doesn’t get nervous; it’s unbelievable,” her mom, St. John Vianney High softball coach Kim Lombardi-McDougall said with a laugh. “She has great poise on the mound for a freshman. I’m in the dugout throwing up 12 times and she’s out there having fun.”

It’s always fun to win, and McDougall and her teammates won the Holmdel school’s first NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A championship since 2018 with a 3-0 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas, Edison, at SJV June 2. 

But it didn’t come easy.

McDougall, who danced in and out of trouble in the semifinals at Notre Dame, cruised into the seventh before loading the bases with no outs. She barely flinched, however, getting a fielder’s choice on a third-to-home play, a strikeout and a pop-out to preserve the shutout and the win. 

It marked incredible poise for a freshman, who said after the Notre Dame game, “I feel experienced. I do not feel like a freshman at all. I started this game at four-years-old. I never put my head down.”

The hurler had her issues, allowing three hits, six walks and a hit batsman while striking out seven. But she worked her escape magic and got all the runs she needed in a two-run third inning when Belle Catalona walked, Giuliana Cardin sacrificed, and Holly Lovett and Gabby Gonzalez followed with RBI singles. SJV (27-1) tacked on one in the fourth when Catalona singled home Grace Colucci.
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While the sectional title was something Lombardi has experienced before, it was the first go-around for her current players.

“It’s awesome,” the veteran coach said. “It’s nice to know that the girls who have played for me the last three years now know what it feels like to be part of a program that can win. It’s really nice for the program, to get the girls back with competitiveness.

“And we have a group of kids who all get along. They’re team oriented … freshmen all the way through to the seniors.”

The lone senior starter is Lovett, who spoke of the significance of competing for the SJ crown after beating Notre Dame.

“It means everything to me to take what we have and put it on the highest stage of the state,” she said. “I’ve always been the type of player who comes out and gives everything I have but to be around a team like this – where every person on the field loves each other and has each other’s back – that’s what’s carrying us further than any talent. We believe in each other so much. I’ve never been around a team culture as strong as ours.”

SJV hopes to utilize that culture when it plays in the June 9 Non-Public A championship game, 4 p.m., at Kean University. The Lancers will meet the winner of the North Jersey final between Immaculate Heart Academy, Washington Township and Mount St. Dominic Academy, Caldwell. That game was suspended in the sixth inning with MSD leading, 5-4, and will resume on June 5.

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.

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