Bishop Eustace Crusaders
Players to watch: Senior shortstop Brianne Innamorato is the leading returner for Eustace. She was all-conference first team in 2013 and will continue her career at Florida Gulf Coast next year. Other returners include junior second baseman Olivia LaRosa, who won the team’s Coaches Award, sophomore third baseman Allie McGrory, and senior outfielders Paige Murphy and Krysta Lipinski, who was named “Most Improved” last year for the Crusaders.
Outlook: After a rough season in 2013, the Crusaders are hoping to make strides in their second year under coach Kat Dreitlein.
Camden Catholic Fighting Irish
Players to watch: The Fighting Irish graduated their top two players in pitcher Susan Wysocki and catcher Ali Summers. Among the returners are senior Miranda Pawline and juniors Erin Dewechter, Kyra Perez and Jessica Hayes.
Outlook: Camden Catholic finished with a 20-8 record and lost to Gloucester Catholic in the South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinals. Wysocki and Summers are key losses, and the Fighting Irish might not be contenders for a South Jersey title, but they are a consistent winner and should be a tough team to face.
Players to watch: Junior pitchers Danielle Dinsfriend and Tricia Griffin earned valuable experience on the varsity level a year ago and could be ready for big seasons. Other returning starters include senior Samantha Albertson and sophomores Brooke Wasco, Liani Ortiz, Emily Mesey and Kim Collins.
Outlook: Cherokee finished with a 5-16 record and lost to Toms River East in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs. The Chiefs are one of the few teams in the Olympic American bringing back experienced pitching and should be a team to watch. Pictured: Julia Guerra
Cherry Hill East Cougars
Players to watch: Senior Casey Clark is one of the top outfielders in the Olympic Conference and senior Megan Martin enters her fourth year as the starting second baseman. Senior Michelle Sachais and sophomore Kendall Geis return as the main pitchers. Other returners are seniors Alexandra Perez, Sarah Birchmeier and Andi Leff, and junior Kendall Boardman.
Outlook: The Cougars finished with a 5-19 record and lost to Eastern in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs. They have a valuable nucleus returning and figure to be much improved.
Cherry Hill West Lions
Players to watch: The Lions have a strong senior class led by shortstop Sierra Machinski, centerfielder Alicia DeFlavis and pitcher Jamie Robertson. Other returners include seniors Chelsea Holiday and Gabbi Eberhardt, juniors Linda Kovacs, Taylor Thompson, Sarah Palatnik, Brittany Robertson and Diana Cordisco and sophomore Becca Gurst. Sophomores Elena Vaughn and Arcilia Hernandez will add depth and experience.
Outlook: The Lions finished with a 10-14 record and lost to Vineland in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs. West is an experienced team that should compete for a winning season.
Players to watch: Clearview returns most of its starting lineup, led by junior catcher Dominique Waters. Junior pitcher Taylor Clay and senior Shannon Puthe—who will continue her career at St. Joseph’s University—are also back in the fold. Other returners include seniors Marissa Sorbello and Alison Turner, juniors Genevieve Green and Harper Patsko, and sophomores Jillian DeFrank, Miranda Turner, Kate Woolam, Celia Voltaggio and Lacey Latch.
Outlook: Clearview went 13-11 and lost to Shawnee in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs. The Pioneers have some of their big bats returning, so offense shouldn’t be a problem as they look to become a contender in the Tri-County Royal Division.
Players to watch: The Vikings graduated a number of important players, including all-state second baseman and leadoff hitter Madison Tiernan. Leading the list of returners is junior pitcher Jessica Heaton, who gained valuable experience last year as a sophomore. Also back is junior starting catcher Ally Schmus, and junior Kaitlyn Gaynor, who splits time with Heaton in the circle and is also a threat at the plate. Other returners include junior Kelly Fitzpatrick and sophomores Emily Serata, Madison Morano, Rachel Wood and Sarah Waro.
Outlook: New coach Laura Stagliano takes over for Jamie McGroarty, who led the Vikings to a state championship in 2012 and stepped down after last season. She inherits a young team that should remain competitive after going 22-8 and reaching the South Jersey Group IV semifinals.
Gloucester Catholic Rams
Players to watch: Senior first baseman Annie Robinson is one of the most dangerous hitters in South Jersey. The Coastal Carolina recruit hit .427 with 12 home runs, 12 doubles and 60 RBIs last year. Junior catcher Angela Antonini joined Robinson on the all-South Jersey team after leading the Rams with a .439 average and scoring 30 runs. She is also a terrific defensive catcher. Pitching-wise, the Rams will lean on junior Marissa Cappello with help from sophomores Marissa Miller and Brittany Short. Also back are senior outfielder Maria Petrongolo, junior pitcher-third baseman Allison McCarthy and sophomore shortstop-outfielder-catcher Megan Dyson, who had a solid freshman campaign.
Outlook: The Rams finished with an 18-10 record and lost to eventual state champion St. John Vianney in the South Jersey Non-Public A semifinals. Although the Rams must break in a new No. 1 pitcher after the graduation of Abby Merryman, they have nine returning letterwinners and a handful of promising freshmen, and should be a South Jersey title contender by the end of the year.
Players to watch: Several key juniors return in infielder Mallory Ilves, outfielders Arpie Senopoulos and Emma Hoffman and catcher Samantha Maloney. Senior Natalie Motolese enters her fourth year as a varsity starter. She’ll play shortstop and share pitching duties with senior Devon Trotman. Other returners include senior Juliana Fortino, juniors Harley George and Julianna Kadar, and sophomore Jules Reed.
Outlook: Haddonfield finished with a 5-16 record and lost to Overbrook in the first round of the South Jersey Group II playoffs. With a young but experienced core returning, the Bulldawgs should make great strides.
Players to watch: Senior catcher Tori Danner, an all-South Jersey selection, hit .436 with four home runs, 31 RBIs and 31 runs scored and has committed to Iona. Senior Sarah Hilt hit .333 with a team-high 33 RBIs and is expected to be the Dragons’ ace pitcher this year. Senior Kara Grogan hit .382 with 16 RBIs and sophomore Gabrielle Bruno had a strong freshman campaign with a .290 average and 15 RBIs. Other returners include senior Brianna Pigford, juniors Savannah Galati, Isabella Bradian, Jesse Polcha and Kate Bardall, and sophomore Celeste Azzari.
Outlook: The Dragons finished with a 16-9 record and lost to Hammonton in the South Jersey Group III semifinals. Year in and year out, the Dragons are contenders for a South Jersey championship, and this season is no different thanks to an outstanding returning lineup.
Players to watch: Junior Taylor Warrick was all-Olympic American first team and coach Jim Scott calls her one of the most dominant hitters in the state. Senior outfielder Dallas Hogan, an all-county first-team selection, hit .426 with 21 steals and is headed to Harvard. Her classmate, Lindsey Manera, was an all-county second-team pitcher. Other key returners are seniors Kristen Young and Andrea Polis, juniors Kira Celia, Maddie Moroski, Sam Elliott and Olivia Mahon, and sophomores Serena Lam, Christine Reithmeier and Caitlyn Chow.
Outlook: Lenape finished with an 11-8 record and lost to Williamstown in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs. The Indians have talent throughout the roster and could be a top contender in the Olympic American.
Players to watch: Moorestown returns an experienced battery with senior pitcher Audrey Weller and senior catcher Alexa Massa. Other key returners include junior third baseman Rachel Fordham, senior infielder Molina Semple and junior infielders Jenna Grant and Saylor Brisson.
Outlook: The Quakers went 9-9 and lost to Cumberland in the first round of the South Jersey Group III playoffs. With an experienced nucleus returning, they should return to the playoffs and possibly make a run.
Paul VI Eagles
Players to watch: A pair of all-South Jersey players returns in senior infielder Brielle Pietrafesa and senior outfielder Dylan Jarvis. Pietrafesa will continue her career at Hofstra, while Jarvis is headed to Towson. Senior pitcher Rosie LaGrotta, a Millersville recruit, transfers in after winning 22 games with a 1.33 ERA and leading Sacred Heart to the Non-Public B state final. Junior Alexa Toner also returns after serving as the pitching ace a year ago. Other returning starters are junior Megan Wall and sophomores Abbey Lord, Rachel Robb and Breck Urban. Also back are juniors Charlotte Krebs, Gabby Marino and Hannah Merachnik and sophomore Valerie Velasco. Freshman catcher Sam Sack is expected to make a huge impact, while fellow rookie Sarah Price should also contribute.
Outlook: Paul VI went 23-9 and suffered a tough 1-0 loss to eventual state champion St. John Vianney in the South Jersey Non-Public A final in 2013. The Eagles have a tremendous returning core and, with the addition of LaGrotta, will be the favorite in the Olympic National and also a contender for the South Jersey Non-Public A title.
Seneca Golden Eagles
Players to watch: Kaila Gerber is one of the few seniors expected to play for Seneca this season, while junior returners include Brittany Alwais, Nicole Fullerton, Emily Randolph, Maddison Critchfield, Charlee Greco, Gianna Decker and Kaleigh Bowman. Sophomores Kendra Decker, Jordan Wahrenberger and Maggie Mitchell are also expected to have an impact.
Outlook: Seneca went 5-14 and lost to Burlington Township in the first round of the South Jersey Group III playoffs. The Golden Eagles will look to continue to develop their young players and aim for a winning season.
Players to watch: Junior infielder-outfielder Kaitlyn Konopka played all over the field for Shawnee a year ago. She hit .372 with 13 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs and was named all-county first team. Junior third baseman Connor Gilligan was all-county second team and could emerge as the new No. 1 pitcher. Other returners include seniors Maggie Stone, Alison Churylo and Alexis Gordon, juniors Taylor Gilligan, Miranda Mink, Sam Guarino and Quinn Halpin, and sophomores Madison LaPlante, Cortney Paulus, Sabrina Scott, Alana Bodendorf, Emily Haitz and Megan Ennis.
Outlook: The Renegades finished with a 22-9 record and were ranked 19th in the final state poll. They lost to eventual state champion Washington Township in the South Jersey Group IV final. While they must replace all-South Jersey player Jacklyn Pezzato, a force in the circle and at the plate, they have the overall talent to remain one of the best teams in the Olympic American.
Washington Township Minutemaids
Players to watch: Junior infielder Jessica Hughes is the top returning player after hitting a robust .514 with 40 RBIs and 55 hits, good for fourth in the state. Senior outfielder Alyssa Cudeyro hit .382 and was all-county honorable mention and junior infielder-outfielder Dominique Palagruto had a key two-run hit in last year’s South Jersey final. Senior Jenna Mills went 8-1 and should take over as the ace of the pitching staff. Other returning starters are senior Alyssa Petner and juniors Kelli Gaffney and Lauren Sandelier. Also back are senior Elena Adams, junior Jennifer Klavens, and sophomores Rachel Edwards, Hillary Ostrowski, Kristina DelGaiso, Lauren Shannon and Kristen McEnroe. Junior Sam DiClementi is also expected to contribute after missing last season with an injury.
Outlook: Township had a magical run last season, winning the Group IV state championship and finishing with a 30-2 record. They were ranked third in the final state poll. The Minutemaids graduated three all-South Jersey players in pitcher Taylor Coroneos, catcher Kylie Mulholland and first baseman Kristen Turner, so don’t expect them to be as dominant as last year. But a ton of talent remains and they should remain a threat in the Olympic American and South Jersey Group IV.
Click here for this season’s schedules.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family’s High School Spring Sports Preview, January, 2014.
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