Not only were there special teams, there were standout players. Following are the ones selected to the inaugural North Jersey Girls and Women’s Sports All-Star Softball Team:
Caitlin Betz, a senior, compiled a 15-5 record for Randolph, leading them into the MCT semifinals, before suffering a hamstring injury. Betz struck out 195 and had a 1.62 ERA. She was hurt by errors in the past but, this time out, the Rams’ defense tightened up. Betz was valuable at the plate as well, hitting .365 with an on-base percentage of .500.
Chatham’s Amanda Fazio, a left-hander, was reliable as a pitcher and hitter. Fazio, who had 12 shutouts, went 19-5 with 211 strikeouts and 28 walks. Her ERA was 1.57. She wielded a big bat, rapping out 36 hits, 11 for extra bases, and knocking in 19 runs. Fazio’s average was .409.
Dana Nielsen was one of the major forces behind Pequannock’s success. Nielsen, a junior right-hander, had an 18-1-1 record. She struck out 247 and walked 18 in 139 innings. Her ERA was 0.35. She gave up only 44 hits and had four no-hitters and 13 shutouts. Nielsen batted .437 with 13 RBIs.
Caitlin O’Connor of Morris Knolls continued her dominance and was 21-4 as a senior. Two of her losses were to powerful Hunterdon Central. Over 150 innings, she registered 212 strikeouts and gave up 65 hits. Her ERA was 0.89 ERA. O’Connor batted .392, rapping out 31 hits. She had five doubles, six homers, 44 RBIs and a .684 slugging percentage.
Kayla Lombardo, who played the left side of the infield before taking over as catcher this season, accumulated 45 hits and knocked in 37 runs for Pequannock. Among her hits were 14 doubles, three triples and nine home runs. Her batting average was .584. Few runners dared to steal on Lombardo, headed to Fordham University in the fall.
Morris Knolls’ Angela Maioran concluded a fine career with a .473 average, 43 hits, 12 for extra bases, and 34 RBIs. A catcher, Maioran had a .703 slugging percentage and .515 on-base percentage. Exceptional defensively, she made only one error and threw out 15 of 20 runners attempting to steal.
Parsippany Hills senior Cara McNeil posted excellent numbers for four years, establishing herself as one of Morris County’s finest first baseman. McNeil was top-notch on defense, committing one error. Although the Vikings’ offense struggled, she batted .369 and had a .438 on-base and slugging percentages. She drove in 20 runs – one-third of her team’s runs and had more than 100 hits for her career.
Kiki Baldassari held down the No. 2 spot in the order for Morris Knolls and always seemed to get on base. The junior second baseman boasted these numbers: .430 average, 43 hits, 33 runs, .440 slugging and .441 OBP. Baldassari, always aggressive, stole 21-of-21 bases. Her fielding percentage was .947.
Kinnelon’s Alyssa Schwed, a three-year starter, enjoyed a 19-game hitting streak this season. More than half of the junior shortstop’s 30 hits were for extra bases. Schwed, the No. 3 hitter before being moved to leadoff, batted .435 and had a .841 slugging percentage. She drove in 14 runs and stole 13 bases. Schwed, who goes all out on defense, had a .957 fielding percentage.
Junior center fielder Christina LoConte was a stellar leadoff hitter for Hanover Park. She hit .521 with an OBP of .573. LoConte had 38 hits, scored 27 runs and had 12 RBIs. She covered much ground in the outfield and made only one error. LoConte’s arm was another asset as she threw out five runners at the plate.
Parsippany’s Kelsey Principe had 132 career hits, including 36 this spring. Principe boasted a .581 average. She had a hit in every game but two and had seven RBIs. She stole 17 bases in 20 attempts. Principe possesses many defensive attributes. She made only one error and used her strong arm to cut down opposing baserunners.
Ally Thomas, a junior, came up with several important hits for Pequannock but none bigger than her one-out, two-run homer in the eighth inning that boosted the Golden Panthers over Chatham, 3-2. Thomas, the left fielder, had a .444 average, 25 RBIs, 10 extra base hits and four walks.
Courtney Simon, a sophomore, thrived as an outfielder and Whippany Park’s No. 1 hitter. Simon (.435) amassed 40 hits, including 10 doubles and five triples, and had 21 RBIs. Her slugging percentage was .652 and she had 60 total bases for Whippany Park, the Group I runner-up. The sure-handed Simon made only one error.
Morris Catholic, a Non-Public B finalist, had a versatile player in senior shortstop/pitcher Jeane Drury. Drury, who had more than 150 career hits, batted .600 with 45 hits. She knocked in 38 runs and scored 28. She displayed speed and power with 13 doubles and 20 stolen bases. As a pitcher, she struck out 133 and walked 14. Her record was ERA was 0.99.
Casey Reggiani was invaluable to Whippany Park as a pitcher/outfielder. Reggiani had a 12-1 record as a pitcher and a 1.47 ERA. She struck out 72 and walked 19. At the plate, she came up big, stroking 35 hits and driving in 22 runs. Reggiani’s .443 average was the best among the Wildcats. Her slugging percentage was .557.
Pequannock senior Becky Myron held down the cleanup spot and put up impressive numbers, going 33 for 78 and batting .423. Myron, the designated player, ended with 34 RBIs. She had seven doubles, a triple and three home runs. She walked eight times.
Junior first baseman Kelly Winans had a big season for Chatham, which advanced to the Group III semifinals. Winans had 31 hits and 22 RBIs. She had 10 doubles and a home run. She batted .360. As a fielder, Winans was steady and was charged with four errors in 168 chances.
Player of the Year
Over her four years as a starter for Pequannock, Kayla Lombardo was consistent in every aspect of the game.
Adept at playing third base, shortstop and catcher, Lombardo, off to Fordham University, capped her career by hitting .584 with 45 hits and 37 RBIs. Among her hits were 14 doubles, three triples and nine homers.
Lombardo, who will pursue a career in journalism, was the Golden Panthers’ emotional leader and was named MVP of the Morris County Tournament after she and her teammates claimed their third consecutive title.
Still, she rarely wanted to talk about herself but rather about the chemistry Pequannock had.
“We had so many talented players. It wasn’t just me,” Lombardo said. “I love this team so much. We competed. We all got along so well. We had great success together.”
Lombardo is a highly skilled defensive player. She displayed hustle and owns a strong arm. Few baserunners took a chance with her behind the plate.
Coach of the Year
Brianne McBreen, in her third season, guided Randolph to a 15-8 record and a berth in the MCT semifinals.
Under McBreen, a former Morristown-Beard pitcher and 2003 Bucknell University graduate, the Rams have notched 42 victories. A special education teacher at Randolph High School, she places much emphasis on teamwork.
“The girls worked as one unit,” McBreen said. “I always want the girls to put their best foot forward and not be afraid to take risks or make mistakes. They need to push themselves to the highest level possible and playing it safe all the time won’t get you there.”
Team of the Year
It was a banner year for Pequannock, which was Group II runner-up to Robbinsville. The Golden Panthers fell short, 2-1, in the state final but claimed a sectional title, the Morris County Tournament championship for the third consecutive year and the NJAC-Independence Division crown.
Pequannock went 25-1-1 behind a talented group of seniors. Nine of the players on the Golden Panthers’ roster, three of them juniors, were on the 2006 Little League World Series squad that came in second.
Dana Nielsen and Kayla Lombardo formed a formidable battery. The infield was comprised of Deanna DeVito, Raquel LaManna, Dana Torchia and Courtney Borovskis.
The outfielders were Jaimie O’Rourke, Ally Thomas, Ali Fichtler and Sam DeVito. Becky Myron served as designated player.
“It was a great, great run,” Pequannock coach Maryann Goodwin said. “This team accomplished what no other team has accomplished in school history. Just because we didn’t win the final game doesn’t mean all their success should be overlooked.”
P – Ashtin Helmer, Roxbury
P – Sam Abromavage, Jefferson
P – Jenn Sanisolo, Whippany Park
P – Jenny Skinner, West Morris
C – Kera Pezzuti, Montville
C – Cara Delsandro, Chatham
1B – Carly Bartholomew, Whippany Park
1B – Katie Carberry, West Morris
2B – Kelsey Davies, Chatham
SS – Ali Patierno, Montville
SS – Nikki Caruso, Madison
SS – Tori Clarke, Morris Knolls
OF – Jaimie O’Rourke, Pequannock
OF – Bailey Hildebrant, Mount Olive
OF – Elaine Hua, Morris Knolls
OF – Nicole Iannarone, Madison
OF – Courtney Rohrbacker, Villa Walsh
DH – Katelyn Milling, Roxbury
DH – Emma Madarasz, Villa Walsh
DH – Briana Giovenco, Morris Tech
Boonton: Kylie Morgan; Butler: Kim LaPenta, Alexandria Spellamn, Lindsey Walden; Chatham: Kendall Davies; Dover: Joan Medvar, Kiana Mitchell; Hanover Park: Sam Snyder, Nicole Hand, Brooke Lieberman, Natalie Miano; Jefferson: Kelly Noonan, Amanda Gerritsen; Kinnelon: Kathryn Waldrop, Samantha DeClario; Madison: Julianna Vezza, Tori Ellis; Mendham: Dimitria Spathakis; Montville: Jackie DiPiazza, Taylor Strickland, Jessica Shalongo; Morris Catholic: Liz Dinsmore; Morris Hills: Stacey Abasto, Dana Castellano; Morris Knolls: Cara Rubinaccio; Morris Tech: Krysta Scimeca; Morristown: Vicki Perez, Betsy Boehler; Morristown-Beard: Emily Vnencak, Jill Raia; Mount Olive: Casey Schreiner, Ally Haggerty; Parsippany: Alex Rigoli, Vicki Lonero; Parsippany Hills: Becky Becher; Pequannock: Deanna DeVito, Dana Torchia; Randolph: Victoria Conklin, Amanda Magadan, Michelle Kovary; Roxbury: Jill Fiebel, Holly Arentowicz; St. Elizabeth: Marie Ricca; Villa Walsh: Grace Edelson, Chelsea Drake; West Morris: Allie McCourt, Aubrey Pellerin, Becca Raymond; Whippany Park: Brianna Cetrulo, Hannah Mucerino, Taylor Trifiolis, Ashley Belott.