As the St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, softball team arranged and rearranged itself for countless photo-ops after winning the program’s first state championship since 2018, one of the poses featured sophomore Elisabeth Figliolino in the back row hoisting the championship plaque high in the air.
Mother-daughter-catcher trio leads SJV to Non-Public A state softball title
It was fitting; for as much talk as there was about pitcher Madison McDougall duplicating her mom’s achievement of winning a state final; Figliolino was also a huge part of the story.
PHOTO GALLERY: SJV softball team wins state championship
It was her first-inning, two-out, two-run home run that gave St. John Vianney all it needed in a 2-0 win over Mount St. Dominic, Caldwell, in the NJSIAA Non-Public A final June 9 at Kean University in Union.
Thus, “Figs” had every right to raise that trophy in celebration.
“That just felt great because being a part of this team is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done,” Figliolino said. “Every day we’re working to see it all pay off. Especially after the hard Shore Conference loss (to Donovan Catholic, Toms River, in the finals) and coming back stronger. It felt very, very good to hold up that plaque for the team.”
Figliolino not only had the big hit, but served as McDougall’s catcher in a historic event. The freshman finished with a one-hitter and nine strikeouts, which put her on par with SJV coach Kim Lombardi-McDougall. Lombardi-McDougall – who is also Madison’s mom – was the winning pitcher for Red Bank Catholic High School in the 1997 state final.
“We never talked about it,” McDougall said of becoming the first mother-daughter combo to accomplish the feat. “We just said we were gonna go out with a bang, give 110 percent. And if you lose, you lose going strong.”
The pitcher admitted, however, it was in the back of her mind.
“Always,” she said with a grin. “My house is very competitive. My brothers and my sister, we grew up being very competitive, just like my mom was growing up.”
Figliolino, who works closely with both mother and daughter, agreed.
“They’re both very driven and they both are gonna work as hard as they can to become the best they can to make a dominant team,” she said. “They’re both very determined people.”
Figliolino’s determination paid off in the bottom of the first. With McDougall on first and two outs, she drove an 0-2 pitch over the right field fence for her 11th HR of the season.
“With the runner on I was just trying to get bat on ball any way I could and make hard contact,” the catcher said. “I fell behind on the count and I knew I needed to get the run across and have a good solid at-bat.”
When it left the park, McDougall was thinking championship.
“I thought ‘Game over, we got this,’” she said. “I just needed to throw strikes and produce outs.”
As usual, McDougall had to work through some jams and she praised her defense for helping out. MSD loaded the bases with one out in the first, had a runner on second in the second and a runner on third with one out in the fourth. Each time she responded by getting strikeouts, and eventually settled down and retired 11 of the final 12 batters she faced.
“As a freshman she has some nerves but she comes back stronger every inning,” Figliolino said. “I knew when we got out of those jams we were gonna be OK because she would get stronger.”
Figliolino said at the start of the season she felt SJV had the potential to win it all due to its talent and work ethic. When it finally happened, McDougall was in a daze.
“I still honestly can’t believe we got this far and I’m very happy we did,” she said. “I did it for my seniors, my mom, my family, myself. Just to let people know that SJV softball is back is awesome.”