first_img BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer MIGUEL JUAREZ staff St. John Vianney shortstop Gary Fare slaps the tag on Matawan’s Julian Sonnenfeld during the Lancers’ home victory on Thursday in Holmdel. At just about the halfway point of the season, the Middletown High School North softball team owns a 6-6 record, but the Lions have played reasonably well overall as they push on toward the Shore Conference Tournament and the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV playoffs. Coach Bill LaFalce’s team is 5-4 in the Shore’s competitive Class A North Division, where they have scored wins over Freehold Township, Howell, Middletown South and Marlboro (twice). The other win came against Colts Neck in the opening round of the Red Division in the Monmouth County tourney. Tomorrow the Eagles will meet up with Manalapan in the quarterfinals. The Braves edged the Eagles, 5-4, on Saturday giving Manalapan the A North title. The Eagles have strong pitching and have gotten by with three .300 hitters and generally good defense, although the coach said defensive mistakes have, at times, proven costly. In addition, four of Middletown North’s losses have been by a lone run. “Our girls don’t make very many errors,” LaFalce said. “It’s just that when they have made errors, they’ve come at inopportune times. It’s also fair to say that we have to get some more offensive production. A few more runs would be very helpful.” With Krystal Kinsella on the mound, LaFalce can count on consistency. Kinsella makes runners earn their way on base and has posted a 6-5 mark, thus far. The infield includes Cara Piasecki at short, juniors Jenna Lougee and Lindsey Nadolny at first and third bases, respectively, and sophomore Casey Crist at second base. Liz Kelly patrols left field with sophomore Kara Kelsey in center and freshman Amanda Svenson in right field. Junior Stephanie Cymny and sophomore Nicole Pinbro provide depth. Megan Trivett, a sophomore, shares the catching duties with Laura Dorsa, a freshman. Junior Danielle Susi is the designated hitter. Lougee, Piasecki and Nadolny have been Middletown North’s most consistent hitters, but LaFalce noted that other players are contributing at the plate. Last week Svenson blasted a big triple to key the come-from-behind victory against Colts Neck. “We have the talent to get more offensive production,” the coach said. “If we can do that it will take the pressure off of our pitching and defense. We’ve lost a few games where we had leads and a few more runs would let the girls know that if they do make a mistake we have the runs to cover it.” He noted that his team still has plenty of time to qualify for the Shore (cutoff is May 15) and state (cut-off is May 12) tourneys. Teams need to have a .500 or better record at the end of play on those dates to qualify. Middletown North is slated to host Freehold Township this afternoon and will play Manalapan tomorrow in a Monmouth County Tournament game. On Thursday the Eagles travel to Middletown South and they return home on Friday to play Red Bank Catholic. “Our record is not as good as we’d like it to be, but there have been a lot of positives,” LaFalce said. “First of all, we’ve been in every game, our pitching has been great and our young players are doing the job. This is the kind of team that can do well in the tournaments. They’re just starting to put everything together and their confidence is improving. Obviously, we still have to qualify, but if we can get on a little bit of a roll we could go pretty far.” Division races heating up for select few A look at the Shore Conference’s divisional standings at the start of the week show that just a handful of local softball and baseball teams have legitimate chances at capturing division titles this spring. One of those teams – the top-ranked St. John Vianney softball squad- is assured of some hardware, having already wrapped up at least a tie for the Class A Central’s parochial title. With last Tuesday’s 3-0 win over rival Red Bank Catholic, the Lancers all but locked up the title by improving to 9-0 in the division (12-1 overall), before cementing their spot atop the division with a 4-0 win over Matawan on Thursday. With the Lancers enjoying a two-game lead in the loss column over RBC entering the week, it would take a monumentally unlikely SJV collapse over the next two weeks for the Caseys to earn a share of the title. With the division race well in hand, the Lancers are focusing on a Monmouth County title, having reached this Saturday’s semifinal, where they will take on undefeated Freehold Borough, and one of the state’s top pitchers, Ashley Forysth. The game will be held at the Harry Rash Field in Wall Township and will start at 8 p.m. The Colonials survived a 10-inning, no-hit performance by Monmouth Regional lefty Amanda LaFrance, to beat the Golden Falcons, 3-2, in 11 innings in the quarterfinals on April 25. The other semifinal Saturday will start at 6 p.m. and will pit Red Bank Catholic against the winner of today’s quarterfinal game between defending tournament champion Manalapan and Middletown North. The semifinal winners will meet on May 13 at Rash Field in the championship game. Manalapan (11-2) rallied to beat the Lions last Saturday, 5-4, to nail down its second straight A North Division championship. While SJV is the likely A Central parochial champ, the Matawan Huskies and Holmdel Hornets are in position to claim the public school title in the division. Matawan entered the week at 5-5 in division play, just ahead of Holmdel, who was 4-5. Rumson-Fair Haven is also in the mix at 3-6. Matawan will travel to Holmdel tomorrow for a key match-up in that race. The only other local softball team with a legitimate shot at a division title is the Mater Dei Seraphs. Head coach Jeanne Dickinson’s squad entered the week at 10-1 in Class B Central play, just one game back of Shore Regional (11-1) and one win ahead of St. Rose (9-1) in the parochial school race. The Seraphs, who are also 10-1 overall, will get a shot at both of those teams this week, with the Blue Devils coming to Middletown today, and the Purple Roses coming to town tomorrow. Tomorrow’s game will likely decide who will claim the parochial title in B Central. On the baseball diamond, the CBA Colts are the class of Class A North at 10-1 in the division, though as a parochial team, they cannot technically celebrate a division title. The same can’t be said for the St. John Vianney Lancers, who are in the midst of a dogfight with RBC for the parochial title in Class A Central. Both teams entered the week with 6-3 divisional records, setting the stage for a pennant race over the next couple of weeks. The two teams don’t have anymore regular season head-to-head match-ups left, but playing in a division with a number of good teams (i.e. Manasquan, Holmdel, Rumson-Fair Haven, Raritan and Matawan) who are all hovering around the .500 mark with the state playoff (May 12) and Shore Conference Tournament (May 15) deadlines rapidly approaching, both SJV and RBC will have to earn every divisional win the rest of the way. – Doug McKenzie contributed to this story BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer Divisional races begin to heat up last_img