Lions start to round into form on softball diamond

first_img By doug mckenzie Staff Writer FARRAH MAFFAI Middletown North’s Bonnie Stenger gets set to fire a pitch during the Lions’ win over Holmdel in Middletown on Friday. The Middletown North girls’ softball team is in the unenviable position of playing the Shore Conference’s Class A North Division. For that reason, their 7-3 mark entering this week’s play is a bit deceiving. Among those losses are a pair of close defeats to top-ranked Freehold Township and fourth-ranked Middletown South, the two teams battling it out for A North’s top spot. But North head coach Don Fadden isn’t concerning himself with the division race, acknowledging that it’s very unlikely that the Lions could capture the crown. Instead, he’s preparing his girls for the postseason, where he believes his Lady Lions will be a very dangerous team. “The way we’re starting to come around offensively, I don’t think there’s a team out there that will look forward to playing us,” he said. “We’re starting to play to our potential.” The Lions, who played Marlboro on Monday before facing Red Bank Catholic yesterday in the Lady Buc Tournament, are coming off a 4-0 blanking of a good Holmdel team. In that game, University of Tampa-bound senior Bonnie Stenger registered her second shutout and continued her impressive season. “She hasn’t pitched a poor game yet,” Fadden said. “She’s 5-3, but lost a 3-1 game to Township where we gave up some unearned runs, and had the same thing happen against South.” Stenger, who emerged as the team’s pitcher last year, has tremendous control and is averaging about one strikeout per inning. Her ERA is under 1.00, and she has been better than Fadden could have hoped for through the first half of the year. “She came out of nowhere last year and has done a really nice job for us,” he said. “The big bonus is that she’s also hitting the ball well. In the past we always hit for her, but this year she’s up around .390, so I can’t take her bat out of the lineup.” The Lions’ offense is headed by shortstop Kelly Goodbody, a four-year starter who Fadden believes is the best fielding shortstop in the Shore. “Last year she made one error in 24 games, which is unheard of, not to mention a school record,” he said. “And the one error she made was a low throw to first that would have been an infield hit anyway, and allowed the runner to advance to second. “Offensively, she does a lot of things that we take for granted,” he continued. “She has great speed and a knack for getting on base.” Senior catcher Megan Smith, another four-year starter, is also off to a fast start offensively with a team-high nine RBIs. “She’s been our leading hitter the last two years, and has done a real nice job in the three-hole. We love to get runners on base for her because she usually comes through with a hit in those situations.” Second baseman Jenna Provost’s average is hovering .390, and she is providing good leadership in the infield, according to Fadden. Junior third baseman Katie Fallon is also playing well and is batting around .370 from the No. 2 hole. The remainder of the starting lineup is beginning to get hot as well, with junior left fielder Caitlyn Piasecki, sophomore right fielder Tiffany Maltais and freshman center fielder Kristie Fearon showing signs of improvement as well. Freshman first baseman Gina Soldo has been the team’s “pleasant surprise,” according to Fadden. “I was keeping her as a backup, but her hitting has kept her in the lineup so far,” he said. “She puts the bat on the ball and doesn’t strike out much.” The rest of the team includes senior utility player Christina Karmon, junior outfielder Courtney Bartinato, and sophomores Tracy Crist and Adrienne Angelone. With the second half of the season under way, Fadden is expecting big things from his squad. “These are great kids, win or lose, and they’re working very hard,” he said. “Our pitching has been steady, and the defense is coming around, so if we can generate some offense, we’ll be tough to beat. “We can beat good teams as long as we’re not giving them any big innings,” he said. “We just can’t make mistakes that lead to extra outs because we can’t overcome those big innings against the good teams.”last_img read more

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