SJV softball wins second straight state title

June 7, 2024 at 11:39 a.m.
For the second straight year, the St. John Vianney softball team gathered around home plate with their championship plaque to celebrate winning the NJSIAA Non-Public A title. It was the Lancers eighth overall state championship, the fifth highest total in New Jersey softball history. Courtesy photo
For the second straight year, the St. John Vianney softball team gathered around home plate with their championship plaque to celebrate winning the NJSIAA Non-Public A title. It was the Lancers eighth overall state championship, the fifth highest total in New Jersey softball history. Courtesy photo

By RICH FISHER
Contributing Editor

Madison McDougall is in a rut.

All she can do is throw one-hitters in state championship games.

Her effort was a little more dramatic the second time around, as McDougall had a no-hitter for 6-⅓ innings before yielding a run-scoring double. But that couldn’t dampen the thrill Holmdel’s St. John Vianney softball team got after topping Caldwell’s Mount St. Dominic Academy, 4-1, in the June 6 NJSIAA Non-Public A championship game.

“I’ll take one-hitters all day long,” McDougall’s coach and mom, Kim Lombardi-McDougall, said with a chuckle.

There must be something the sophomore likes about pitching at Union’s Kean University. Last year she allowed just one hit against MSDA in the championship game victory, and her latest masterpiece was punctuated by 13 strikeouts. 

“It feels very exciting and fun at the same time,” said McDougall, who in six career state tournament games is 6-0 with a 0.31 ERA and 53 strikeouts. In two state finals against MSDA, McDougall has allowed one run and two hits while striking out 22.  

Prior to Olivia Bibbo’s one-out RBI double in the seventh, Madison had thrown 17 straight scoreless innings in this year’s states.

“She has gotten stronger in the postseason,” Lombardi-McDougall said. “I was incredibly confident with the way she was throwing.”

Her catcher, Elisabeth “Figs” Figliolino, concurred.

“She gets on that mound with confidence and she’s unstoppable,” said Figliolino, who has played travel ball with McDougall the past four years. “She pitched amazing today. She’s like my little sister. I love catching her. Just being around her is a blessing.”

The entire Lancers team is blessed with talent, as witnessed by a 53-2 record over the past two seasons. SJV (26-1) entered the game ranked No. 2 in the state behind No. 1 MSDA (30-2).

“That didn’t make a difference to me,” Figliolino said. “As a team we knew we were number one and we were gonna come out on top.”

SJV took a first-inning lead as two errors allowed Gabby Gonzalez to score.

“When we got the first run, I was like ‘There we go, we won,’” McDougall said.

The Lancers also scored in the first last year and have led for all 14 innings of the past two state finals.

SJV tacked on in the second when Gonzalez followed Brynn Utter’s infield single with a single to score Jordyn Gautier. The Lady Lions walked McDougall intentionally to load the bases for Figliolino.

“I knew that Figs was gonna come up clutch,” Lombardi-McDougall said. “I always tell my kids to take that personal. They just walked somebody to get to you and you know you can get the job done.”

Figliolino got it done, slamming a two-run double, but didn’t take it personally.

“I just thought they were trying to get a force out anywhere by loading the bases,” she said. “I knew I had to get a hit and score a run so I definitely used that as motivation but I wouldn’t say it was an insult. It was a strategy play.”

It looked like the correct strategy when Figliolino got down on the count, 0-2. After taking a pitch to go to 1-2, she said, “I think I got an inside rise ball that didn’t rise enough. I just tried to top it as much as I could, hit the ball in the ground to score a run. Any pitch that was close I had to go after.”

From there it was all McDougall, who cruised until the seventh. She was aware of her no-hitter but didn’t let the loss of it deflate her as she struck out the game’s final two batters.

“I was totally fine,” she said. “I knew even though I gave up the one hit we were gonna win. I woke up this morning and on the way to school I told my mom I’m very confident and I was pumped up to play.”

“She pitched fantastic today,” said Lombardi-McDougall, who was quick to note her daughter’s pitching is aided by her catcher.

“Madison has so much confidence to throw any pitch because she knows Figs will stop anything,” the coach said. “She’s an unbelievable backstop and that makes all the difference for a pitcher.”

The two developed chemistry their first year together, with McDougall saying “We clicked instantly. We’re great friends, she’s an excellent player, a well-rounded person. Our car rides to away games are so much fun together.”

Not to be lost in the shuffle was a tremendous back-handed play by Gonzalez at shortstop to temporarily preserve the no-hitter in the fifth, and the steady senior guidance of outfielders’ Giuliana Cardin and Gautier and first baseman Isabelle Cattelona. 

“They’re all four-year starters and they’ve all played several different positions,” Lombardi-McDougall said. “All three are clutch hitters. I’m super proud of their leadership.”

It all added up to SJV’s eighth state title, the fifth most in New Jersey history. It was hard earned, as en route to the finals the Lancers had to beat state powers Donovan Catholic, Toms River, and Notre Dame, Lawrenceville  (in 10 grueling innings).

“Getting through them was a lot of stress off our backs,” Figliolino said. 

Nine of the last 14 Non-Public A titles have been won by SJV or Donovan Catholic.

“South Jersey is the hardest section in the state,” Lombardi-McDougall said. “Playing Donovan and Notre Dame is like playing two state championship games and then you have the (actual) state championship. I felt like my kids would be very confident. We’d been there before, the pressure wasn’t on us, we weren’t the No. 1 team going in.”


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Madison McDougall is in a rut.

All she can do is throw one-hitters in state championship games.

Her effort was a little more dramatic the second time around, as McDougall had a no-hitter for 6-⅓ innings before yielding a run-scoring double. But that couldn’t dampen the thrill Holmdel’s St. John Vianney softball team got after topping Caldwell’s Mount St. Dominic Academy, 4-1, in the June 6 NJSIAA Non-Public A championship game.

“I’ll take one-hitters all day long,” McDougall’s coach and mom, Kim Lombardi-McDougall, said with a chuckle.

There must be something the sophomore likes about pitching at Union’s Kean University. Last year she allowed just one hit against MSDA in the championship game victory, and her latest masterpiece was punctuated by 13 strikeouts. 

“It feels very exciting and fun at the same time,” said McDougall, who in six career state tournament games is 6-0 with a 0.31 ERA and 53 strikeouts. In two state finals against MSDA, McDougall has allowed one run and two hits while striking out 22.  

Prior to Olivia Bibbo’s one-out RBI double in the seventh, Madison had thrown 17 straight scoreless innings in this year’s states.

“She has gotten stronger in the postseason,” Lombardi-McDougall said. “I was incredibly confident with the way she was throwing.”

Her catcher, Elisabeth “Figs” Figliolino, concurred.

“She gets on that mound with confidence and she’s unstoppable,” said Figliolino, who has played travel ball with McDougall the past four years. “She pitched amazing today. She’s like my little sister. I love catching her. Just being around her is a blessing.”

The entire Lancers team is blessed with talent, as witnessed by a 53-2 record over the past two seasons. SJV (26-1) entered the game ranked No. 2 in the state behind No. 1 MSDA (30-2).

“That didn’t make a difference to me,” Figliolino said. “As a team we knew we were number one and we were gonna come out on top.”

SJV took a first-inning lead as two errors allowed Gabby Gonzalez to score.

“When we got the first run, I was like ‘There we go, we won,’” McDougall said.

The Lancers also scored in the first last year and have led for all 14 innings of the past two state finals.

SJV tacked on in the second when Gonzalez followed Brynn Utter’s infield single with a single to score Jordyn Gautier. The Lady Lions walked McDougall intentionally to load the bases for Figliolino.

“I knew that Figs was gonna come up clutch,” Lombardi-McDougall said. “I always tell my kids to take that personal. They just walked somebody to get to you and you know you can get the job done.”

Figliolino got it done, slamming a two-run double, but didn’t take it personally.

“I just thought they were trying to get a force out anywhere by loading the bases,” she said. “I knew I had to get a hit and score a run so I definitely used that as motivation but I wouldn’t say it was an insult. It was a strategy play.”

It looked like the correct strategy when Figliolino got down on the count, 0-2. After taking a pitch to go to 1-2, she said, “I think I got an inside rise ball that didn’t rise enough. I just tried to top it as much as I could, hit the ball in the ground to score a run. Any pitch that was close I had to go after.”

From there it was all McDougall, who cruised until the seventh. She was aware of her no-hitter but didn’t let the loss of it deflate her as she struck out the game’s final two batters.

“I was totally fine,” she said. “I knew even though I gave up the one hit we were gonna win. I woke up this morning and on the way to school I told my mom I’m very confident and I was pumped up to play.”

“She pitched fantastic today,” said Lombardi-McDougall, who was quick to note her daughter’s pitching is aided by her catcher.

“Madison has so much confidence to throw any pitch because she knows Figs will stop anything,” the coach said. “She’s an unbelievable backstop and that makes all the difference for a pitcher.”

The two developed chemistry their first year together, with McDougall saying “We clicked instantly. We’re great friends, she’s an excellent player, a well-rounded person. Our car rides to away games are so much fun together.”

Not to be lost in the shuffle was a tremendous back-handed play by Gonzalez at shortstop to temporarily preserve the no-hitter in the fifth, and the steady senior guidance of outfielders’ Giuliana Cardin and Gautier and first baseman Isabelle Cattelona. 

“They’re all four-year starters and they’ve all played several different positions,” Lombardi-McDougall said. “All three are clutch hitters. I’m super proud of their leadership.”

It all added up to SJV’s eighth state title, the fifth most in New Jersey history. It was hard earned, as en route to the finals the Lancers had to beat state powers Donovan Catholic, Toms River, and Notre Dame, Lawrenceville  (in 10 grueling innings).

“Getting through them was a lot of stress off our backs,” Figliolino said. 

Nine of the last 14 Non-Public A titles have been won by SJV or Donovan Catholic.

“South Jersey is the hardest section in the state,” Lombardi-McDougall said. “Playing Donovan and Notre Dame is like playing two state championship games and then you have the (actual) state championship. I felt like my kids would be very confident. We’d been there before, the pressure wasn’t on us, we weren’t the No. 1 team going in.”

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