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by Matt Cosentino

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Crusaders bring back almost the entire starting lineup and their No. 1 pitcher, so expectations are high. Junior first baseman Kristi DiMeo, one of the top power hitters in the area, has been a key hitter since her freshman year and made the all-conference first team last spring. Sophomore Izzy Kelly emerged as the team’s ace as a freshman and joined DiMeo as an allconference first-teamer. Other key returners include senior infielder Izzy Dewes and senior outfielder Miranda Kelly—both all-conference second-teamers—and junior outfielder Alana Talavacchia, a three-year starter. Other returning starters include junior infielder Christina Cucinotta and junior outfielders Billi Jean McDade and Lindsey Forrest. Casey Kozack is an experienced pitcher.

OUTLOOK: The Crusaders’ 11-11 season included a playoff victory. With most of the team back, they should build on that success.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Junior Sarah Byrnes emerged as an important player in the circle and at the plate last year for Camden Catholic. She became the team’s ace pitcher and also hit in the middle of the lineup and earned all-conference second-team honors. Her battery mate, senior catcher Ashley Surgner, also made the all-conference second team and will serve as team captain. Other returning starters are junior Madison Horworth and sophomores Emily Wargo, Gillian McGlone and Veronica Cava.

OUTLOOK: The Irish won a playoff game and finished 7-13 in 2015, improving by five wins from the year before. They’ll look to keep making progress in their second year under coach Jillian Mulderig.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cherokee graduated just two starters and is paced by senior catcher Brooke Wasco and senior third baseman Emily Mesey, who were both named to the all-conference second team and are key hitters at the top of the lineup. Junior Abbey Scarangelli has been the No. 1 pitcher since her freshman year and it will be interesting to see what she can accomplish as an upperclassman. Other returning starters include junior first baseman Megan Hasulak, senior second baseman Kim Collins and senior shortstop Liani Ortiz. Senior Samantha Waldman leads the outfielders, while senior Keeley Lynch and sophomore Kamryn Waraska are also experienced returners. Sophomore infielder Katie Cummisky will also contribute.

OUTLOOK: The Chiefs qualified for the South Jersey Group IV playoffs and finished with an 11-10 record for their first winning season since 2011. They have the talent to make it two in a row.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Kendall Geis will look to close out her impressive four-year varsity career with another strong season. Last year, the pitcher/infielder had five doubles and a triple and made the all-conference first team. Senior outfielder Megan Miller (five doubles, one home run) and senior pitcher Valerie Velasco—also a solid hitter—are other important returners. Outfielde Julianna Martinez and promising hitter Madison Palat are two sophomores who made contributions as freshmen and should only get better. Other returners include junior outfielder Niki Boparal, sophomore infielder Rachel Levine and sophomore outfielder Kalyssa Nufable.

OUTLOOK: A lot of young players gained experience in a 3-17 season last spring, and that should bode well for the Cougars this year.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cherry Hill West is paced by a solid core of returners that includes senior first baseman Elena Vaughan, a key varsity player for the last three years who was named to the all-conference second team in 2015. That group also features senior pitcher Kali Posten and senior outfielders Becca Gurst, Kylie Renna and Arcilia Hernandez. Junior shortstop Jade Stubblefield and junior utility player Angela LaRosa are also being counted on this year.

OUTLOOK: Depth in key positions will go a long way as the Lions try to improve on last year’s 6-12 record and qualify for the playoffs.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Clearview graduated two all-conference first-teamers, but the rest of last year’s top players are back, including ace pitcher Nina Rizzo, a junior. Rizzo won 19 games and earned all-conference first-team recognition as a sophomore and is primed for a strong season. Sophomore infielder Elaina Hansen belted seven home runs as a rookie and will again provide a big bat in the middle of the lineup. Senior outfielder Miranda Turner (six doubles, two triples, one home run) and junior infielder Rachel Albertson (five doubles, four triples, one home run) both return after all-conference second-team seasons. Senior outfielder Kate Woolam (four doubles, four triples) is another important returner, while other experienced players include senior infielder Celia Voltaggio, junior outfielder Sarah Platt, junior pitcher Skyler Boon and sophomore infielder Alisa Sepulveda.

OUTLOOK: The Pioneers’ 21-5 season featured the Tri-County Royal Division title and a trip to the South Jersey Group IV quarterfinals. They look like serious contenders again.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Two outstanding players lead the returners for Eastern. Senior outfielder Madison Morano was an all-South Jersey and all-conference first-teamer who hit .365 and played strong defense, while junior shortstop Mariah Wysocki joined her on the all-conference first team after hitting seven doubles and five home runs. Senior third baseman Sarah Waro hit .426 with four doubles, two triples and one home run, and senior infielder Rachel Wood sparks the offense out of the leadoff spot. Both made the all-conference second team. Seniors Emily Serata and Jordan Alcoy-Quinn are returners in the outfield, but the Vikings will have to break in a new ace after the graduation of their top two pitchers as well as a new catcher.

OUTLOOK: With a strong nucleus returning, the Vikings are capable of improving on last year’s 13-7 record if their pitching develops.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior outfielder Megan Dyson is coming off a huge junior season and leads the way for the Rams. The Quinnipiac recruit hit .533 with three home runs, 36 runs and 23 RBIs to earn all-South Jersey and all-conference first-team honors. Senior Brittany Short spent most of last season in the outfield and made the all-conference second team, and is likely to take over as the No. 1 pitcher. Sophomore shortstop Jordan Howey also made the all-conference second team and will look to build on her impressive rookie year, while junior first baseman Kiera Regan is another key hitter. Other important returners are junior pitcher Renee DeAngelis, junior second baseman Christina Wilgus, sophomore catcher Brooke Cloak and sophomore outfielder Kelly O’Donnell.

OUTLOOK: After posting a 14-7 record and reaching the South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinals, the Rams are in store for another successful season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Nicolette Barranger has been the starting shortstop and leadoff hitter for Haddonfield since her freshman year and is primed for a strong junior season. She is joined at the top of the lineup and the middle of the order by junior second baseman Sophie Maccarone. Junior Emma Feldhake emerged as the No. 1 pitcher last year and should be improved with a year of experience under her belt. Other returning veterans include senior outfielders Sarah Smith and Madison Rosandich, senior catcher/infielder Jules Reed, junior catcher Gabbie Trimbach, junior outfielder Julia Bersani and sophomore first baseman/third baseman Sophie Popp.

OUTLOOK: The Bulldawgs have some exciting young players returning and will aim for a winning season after finishing 8-15 last year.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kingsway has a reputation for churning out dominant pitchers, and Devon Grippe is the latest. The senior made the all-South Jersey and all-conference first teams last year, as she went 16-4 with a 0.89 ERA and 106 strikeouts. Sophomore Grace Fagan is another top-notch pitcher who will help the Dragons this year. They will be backed up by a starting lineup that graduated the top two hitters in the order but returns everyone else. Senior shortstop Gabrielle Bruno, last year’s three-hole hitter, led the Dragons with nine doubles and 30 runs scored and tied for the team lead with 23 RBIs to earn all-conference first-team honors. Other key returners include sophomore third baseman Danielle Dominik (21 RBIs), senior catcher Morgan Meoli (23 RBIs, team-high six home runs) and sophomore outfielders Amanda Harvey (four home runs) and Cat Knoll (10 RBIs). Freshman Jenny Miller could also contribute.

OUTLOOK: The Dragons went 23-5 and reached the South Jersey Group IV final in 2015, dropping a close loss to eventual state champion Washington Township. With Grippe in the circle, they look like contenders in the Tri-County Royal Division and South Jersey.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Lenape returns several key seniors, including second baseman Cailyn Chow, an all-conference second-team selection last year. First baseman Julia Rosenblatt and outfielders Kristine Reithmeier and Serena Lam are other key veterans. The Indians also bring back their top two pitchers, junior Morgan Macrae and senior Bria Scheets. Junior shortstop Devon Horner and sophomore infielder/outfielder Kendra Mahon are other big contributors.

OUTLOOK: The Indians will look to improve on last year’s 6-13 record under new head coach Eric Krastek, who replaces Jim Scott.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: A terrific nucleus returns for Moorestown, led by battery mates Gabby O’Byrne and Callie Forzley. O’Byrne, a junior, has been the Quakers’ starting catcher since her freshman year and earned all-conference first-team recognition last spring. Forzley, a senior, took over as the team’s No. 1 pitcher last year and is also a key hitter for Moorestown. The Quakers also bring back a pair of all-conference second-teamers: junior outfielder Caroline Muccifori, who led the team with a .348 batting average, and sophomore first baseman Asha Bezwada, who had a promising rookie year. Senior infielder Calla Carideo is another important returner.

OUTLOOK: The Quakers have the talent in place to improve on last year’s 9-11 record and make some noise in the postseason.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sam Sack has already established herself as one of the premier players in South Jersey and she’s just entering her junior season. Last year as a sophomore, the Paul VI catcher hit a robust .575 with eight home runs, 13 doubles and 33 RBIs and also played stellar defense behind the plate, going the whole season without an error. Sack, who has made a verbal commitment to Coastal Carolina, was rewarded with spots on the all-South Jersey and all-conference first teams. The Eagles bring back two other all-conference first-teamers in seniors Breck Urban and Abbey Lord. Urban, a shortstop who has accepted a scholarship to Philadelphia University, knocked in 25 runs while Lord, an outfielder who will play at Albright, had a .411 average. Other returning starters include junior outfielder Sarah Price, sophomore first baseman Cali Kraemer and sophomore second baseman Dallas Urban, while sophomore third baseman Daphne Posey will take on a bigger role. The Eagles must find some new pitchers after the graduation of ace Alexa Toner and No. 2 Charlotte Krebs.

OUTLOOK: The Eagles’ memorable 20-6 season included the Olympic National title and a trip to the South Jersey Non-Public A final. With their returning talent, they will remain a sectional contender if the pitching develops.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: A varsity player since her freshman year, junior Eliza Sweet emerged as Seneca’s ace pitcher in 2015 and made the all-conference first team. She should be one of the top hurlers in the area once again. First baseman Kendra Decker and third baseman Jordan Wahrenberger, both seniors, are three-year starters who made the all-conference second team last year. Junior outfielder Emma Bischoff is another returning starter. Other returners looking to take on bigger roles are juniors Angela Haines, Camryn Albrecht and Brooke Spruill.

OUTLOOK: The Golden Eagles’ 12-11 season featured a trip to the South Jersey Group III semifinals. Despite key losses to graduation in their lineup, they’ll remain competitive with Sweet in the circle.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Renegades graduated several big-time players, including all-South Jersey second baseman/pitcher Kaitlyn Konopka. But a lot of talent remains, including seniors Allie McGrory and Madison LaPlante, both all-conference second-teamers. McGrory, a third baseman, hit .328 with three home runs and 19 RBIs, while LaPlante, an outfielder, hit .428 and drove in 25 runs. Other important returners are junior shortstop AnnMarie Cooker (five home runs, 21 RBIs) and sophomore pitcher Kayla Pagano, who split time with Konopka last year and will be the ace. Senior first baseman Megan Ennis and sophomore outfielder Bridget Gras also started last spring.

OUTLOOK: The Renegades reached the South Jersey Group IV quarterfinals and finished with a 16-9 record in 2015. Expect another successful season this year.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Washington Township\ graduated an outstanding senior class that featured state player of the year Jess Hughes and four other all-conference players, so this team will certainly have a different look. The good news is the return of senior pitcher Lauren Shannon, who went 24-1 with a 1.07 ERA in her first season as the ace and earned all-South Jersey and all-conference first-team honors. Shannon, who fired a one-hitter against Bridgewater-Raritan in the state championship game, should be one of South Jersey’s top hurlers. Sophomore pitcher Shannon Gasparovic will also look to contribute on the mound. Key returning hitters include junior DH/first baseman Erika Coreth (27 RBIs), junior catcher Dominique Fiorentino (18 RBIs) and sophomore outfielder Briana Hoskins (33 hits, 26 runs). Junior second baseman Carli Egan also returns to the starting lineup and senior Rachel Edwards should also contribute.

OUTLOOK: The Minutemaids’ phenomenal 2015 campaign included a 31-1 record, the No. 1 ranking in New Jersey, their third straight sectional championship and their second Group IV state title in the last three years. While they won’t be at the same level, don’t be surprised to see them in the hunt for another sectional crown.

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 11 (January, 2016).
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