PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior first baseman Kristi DiMeo, one of the top players in South Jersey, high- lights an experienced roster for Bishop Eustace. A four-year varsity contributor, DiMeo batted .552 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs as a junior. The Drexel recruit made the all-conference first team for the second year in a row and was an all-South Jersey first-teamer as well. Senior outfielder Billi Jean McDade made the all-conference second team, and other key hitters include junior second baseman Nicky Calabrese and sophomore third baseman Camryn Rachuba. Senior outfielder Alana Talvacchia has been starting since her freshman year and other senior leaders include shortstop Christina Cucinotta, outfielder Lindsey Forrest and catcher Allie Dressel. A new No. 1 pitcher must emerge to replace Casey Kozak, who graduated.
OUTLOOK: The Crusaders’ 12-11 season featured a berth in the final of the Hammonton Tournament and a first-round loss in the South Jersey Non-Public A playoffs. They are a team to watch this season with DiMeo leading a strong lineup.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Camden Catholic graduated just three seniors from last year’s team and has a solid core to build around, starting with senior pitcher Sarah Byrnes. She has been the ace since her sophomore year and made the all-conference first team in 2016. Junior Gillian McGlone and sophomore Gianna Marciano are other key returners who made the all- conference second team, and junior Emily Wargo is a run producer in the middle of the lineup. Other experienced players include seniors Paige Heenan, Tasha Nickoloff and Madison Horworth.
OUTLOOK: The Irish have improved from two wins in 2014 to a 12-10 record last year, as they reached the South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinals. They hope to be contenders in the Olympic Conference National Division this spring under new coach Mike Reed.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cherokee has high hopes for the season thanks to a strong foundation that includes six returning starters. One of those returners is junior catcher/DP Ally St. Jean, who batted cleanup and made the all-conference first team after batting .512 with 29 RBIs. Junior outfielder Emma Gilmore is a solid leadoff hitter who made the all-conference second team, and senior Abbey Scarangelli is back as the ace pitcher, a role she’s held every year of her high school career. Other returning starters are senior first baseman Megan Hasulak, junior second baseman Katie Cummisky and junior outfielder Kamryn Waraksa. Players expected to contribute are senior pitcher/outfielder Cassidy Carr, junior infielder Megan Gray, junior outfielder Emily Lozowski and sophomore outfielder Jordyn Deveney.
OUTLOOK: Cherokee’s 15-11 season included two wins over Washington Township and a trip to the South Jersey Group IV semifinals. With a lot of key players returning and a veteran No. 1 pitcher, this is shaping up as a successful season under new coach Mary Madgey.
Cherry Hill East
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Three all- conference players graduated from last year, but the rest of the roster returns for Cherry Hill East. That includes junior outfielder Kalyssa Nufable, an important hitter at the top of the lineup, and junior third baseman Nicole Rossi, who batted cleanup. Junior outfielder Julianna Martinez has been a varsity contributor since her freshman year and also has some pitching experience, while junior catcher/first baseman Madison Palat is another starter back in the fold. Other returners expect- ed to contribute are senior infielder Samantha Mitchell, junior second baseman Rachel Levine and sophomore catcher/third baseman Miranda Sheppard.
OUTLOOK: The Cougars have some promising returners and hope to keep making progress against a very difficult schedule as Jen Peifer takes over as head coach.
Cherry Hill West
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cherry Hill West has a solid nucleus to be excited about, including sophomores Rachel Kubrak and Meghan Davis, who both made the all-conference second team. Kubrak emerged as the No. 1 pitcher and a key hitter as well, while Davis served as her catcher and hit five home runs. Another sophomore, second baseman/shortstop Kayla Posten, led the team with 20 RBIs and hit .343 as a freshman. Shortstop/outfielder Jade Stubblefield and third baseman/outfielder Angela LaRosa are senior leaders and sophomore outfielder Amelia Sims is another returning starter. Junior second baseman/pitcher Keriann Dignan is also a valuable contributor.
OUTLOOK: After posting an 8-13 record and reaching the South Jersey Group III quarterfinals, the Lions are poised to contend for a winning record in 2017.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Elaina Hansen has already left her mark at Clearview and her career is only halfway over. The junior first baseman belted eight home runs last year, giving her 15 in two seasons, a program record. She also batted .561 with 11 doubles and 40 RBIs to make the all-South Jersey and all-conference first teams. Another key returner is senior pitcher Nina Rizzo, who made the all-conference first team for the second year in a row. Senior infielder and leadoff hitter Rachel Albertson was a repeat selection to the all-conference second team, and other experienced upperclassmen are senior outfielder Grace Chell and junior infielder Alisa Sepulveda. Four sophomores who made an impact as rookies are also back: first baseman Brooke Cooper, catcher Nina Freda, infielder Ashley Thurston and outfielder Keara Meyer.
OUTLOOK: The Pioneers went 10-9 and lost in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs last spring. With almost the entire roster back, look for big things in 2017.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Eastern graduated four all-conference players, including star outfielder Maddie Morano, but can take solace in the fact that ace pitcher Rachel Waro is back. The junior posted a 20-2 record with an ERA of 1.31 and struck out 102 batters on her way to all-South Jersey and all-conference first-team recognition. Other key returners are senior shortstop Mariah Wysocki, an excellent fielder and big bat in the middle of the lineup, and sophomore first baseman/pitcher Madi Guyer, who made the all-conference second team. Senior catcher/designated player Francesca Saam and sophomore catcher Raelyn D’Onofrio are other returning starters, while senior Shelby O’Neill will also be counted on. Several freshmen are expected to contend for spots in the outfield.
OUTLOOK: The 2016 season was a memorable one for the Vikings, who won titles at the Hammonton Invitational and the Olympic Conference American Division before dropping an epic sectional final to Egg Harbor Township in 13 innings to finish with a 25-3 record. Despite significant losses to graduation, this team has a chance to make noise in South Jersey once again.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Gloucester Catholic graduated No. 1 pitcher Brittany Short, an all-South Jersey selection, but brings back most of the every- day lineup. Leading the way are senior first baseman Kiera Regan and junior catcher Brooke Cloak, who both made the all-conference first team. Senior second baseman Christina Wilgus is a key returner expected to hit at the top of the line- up. Sophomore Gianna Gussen, another returning regular, could take over as the No. 1 pitcher, while the starting outfield of sophomore Kirstyn Herman and juniors Kelly O’Donnell and Kaitlyn Allison is back as well. Other players expected to contribute are senior Alexis Tighe, junior Vanessa Romano and sophomore Jenna Bangle.
OUTLOOK: The Rams’ 13-7 season ended with a tough 1-0 loss to Red Bank Catholic in the first round of the South Jersey Non-Public A playoffs. They have the talent for another winning season and hope to go on a longer postseason run.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Haddonfield has a strong senior class that includes four-year varsity player Nicolette Barranger, a shortstop who made the all-conference second team. Known for her speed and her ability to cause damage at the top of the lineup, Barranger is focused on a big final season before continuing her career at Wagner College. No. 1 pitcher Emma Feldhake and second baseman Sophie Maccarone are other senior leaders. Junior first baseman Sophie Popp has some pop in her bat, and other contributors include senior catcher Gabbie Trimbach, senior outfielder Julia Bersani and sophomore outfielder Gabby Barranger, who had an excellent rookie season. Several talented freshmen are also joining the program.
OUTLOOK: With a solid group of veterans leading the way, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bulldawgs improve on last year’s 7-14 record.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kingsway graduated star pitcher Devon Grippe and saw longtime coach Tony Barchuk retire, so on one hand this is a season of major change. On the other hand, there are plenty of key players left to build around, including junior third baseman Danielle Dominik, an all-conference first-teamer. Dominik, the younger sister of former state player of the year Kelsey Dominik, had a team-high six home runs as a sophomore and also led the Dragons in batting average and RBIs. Two other juniors have been starting since their freshman year along with Dominik: outfielders Amanda Harvey and Cat Knoll, an all-conference second-team selection in 2016. Other key returners are junior outfielder Alyssa Cocco, sophomore outfielder Natalie Giovinazzi and sophomore second baseman Theresa Reed. Junior lefty Grace Fagan, who has committed to Mississippi State, will look to take over for Grippe as the ace of the pitching staff, while sophomore Jenny Miller and Dominik could also see time in the circle.
OUTLOOK: Dave Dominik, Danielle’s father, has taken over as head coach and inherits a team that went 14-8, won the Tri-County Conference Royal Division title and reached the sectional quarterfinals. He will look to keep the Dragons among the top programs in South Jersey.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Lenape brings back a solid core led by senior third baseman Devon Horner, who was named to the all-conference second team. Sophomore Emma Brennan emerged as the No. 1 pitcher as a rookie and also contributed with her bat, and should be improved with a year of varsity experience. Other key returners are senior outfielder Courtney Carroll, senior pitcher Morgan Macrae and junior shortstop Kendra Mahon. Junior first baseman Kirsten Cline, one of the team’s top hitters, is also returning from injury.
OUTLOOK: The Indians’ 8-13 season featured several close losses to top teams, including a 3-2 defeat to Millville in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs. They hope to pull out more of those games this year and contend for a winning record.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior outfielder Caroline Muccifori is a premier hitter at the top of the lineup and was named to the all-South Jersey and all-conference first teams last year. She set a school record with 38 hits—and is 18 away from 100 for her career—and also had 12 stolen bases. Senior infielder Dominique Damerjian has been a three-year starter and led the team with four home runs last season. Junior shortstop Asha Bezwada and sophomore outfielder Claire Falcon both made the all-conference second team, and senior Gabby O’Byrne is back for her fourth season as the starting catcher. Other key returners are sophomore infielder Britni Fiore and senior outfielders Kiernan Fallows and Emily Fordham. Pitching duties will fall on the arms of sophomores Catherine Klinger and Mimi Colon-Jordan. A strong freshman class could send three or four rookies to the varsity level.
OUTLOOK: The Quakers have a solid lineup returning and have the potential to improve on last year’s 6- 14 record if the pitching develops.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Paul VI brings back most of its start- ing lineup, including heralded senior catcher Sam Sack, a major contributor since her freshman year. Sack hit over .500 and made the all-South Jersey and all-conference first teams for the second year in a row despite missing the end of the season with an injury. She is primed for a big final season before moving on to Coastal Carolina. Junior Dallas Urban, the leadoff hitter, joined Sack on the all-conference first team and will move from second base to shortstop. Junior third baseman Daphne Posey made the all-conference second team and other returning starters are senior outfielders Sarah Price and Katie Lux. Junior Bianca DiPadova returns to the circle and could emerge as the No. 1 pitcher, while freshman pitcher Carly Quint could also have an impact. Three other freshmen—second baseman Emily MacGibeny, catcher/outfielder Morgan Fisher and utility player Emma Laliberte—are also expected to contribute.
OUTLOOK: The Eagles went 12-9 and advanced to the South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinals in 2016. With Sack leading a terrific lineup and the pitchers having a year of experience under their belts, they have the potential for a strong season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Seneca graduated two all-conference first-team selections, but the rest of the team returns, including star pitcher Eliza Sweet. The senior had 114 strikeouts last year—and has more than 300 for her career—and posted a 2.73 ERA to make the all-South Jersey second team and all-conference first team. Junior first baseman Alexa Adams made the all-conference second team and sophomore outfielder Madi Walker is another key piece of the lineup. Other contributors include seniors Angela Haines and Cami Albrecht, juniors Shannon Briggs and Devon Walker and sophomores Madison Melvin and Kristen Szurley.
OUTLOOK: The Golden Eagles’ 15-8 season included the Olympic Conference National Division title and a trip to the South Jersey Group III quarterfinals. Having an established pitcher like Sweet in the circle should keep them in the division hunt again under new coach Chrissy Gerber.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Shawnee has a solid core led by senior catcher AnnMarie Cooker, an all-conference first-team selection who will continue her career at Florida International. Other senior leaders are second baseman Carly Bowen, a Drexel recruit, and outfielder Taylor Maroon, who has committed to Philadelphia University. Sophomore shortstop Madison McGehrin burst onto the scene as a freshman and belted four home runs, and pitcher Julia Cooker also contributed as a rookie. Other key returners are sophomore Samantha Volpe and juniors Bridget Gras, Marissa Fulcher and Kayla Pagano, an experienced pitcher. Sophomore pitcher Lindsey Durboraw is also expected to have an impact in the circle.
OUTLOOK: The Renegades have some important players to replace from a 16-6 team that reached the South Jersey Group IV quarterfinals, but should remain competitive.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Although all-South Jersey pitcher Lauren Shannon has graduated, Washington Township has a lot of talent remaining. That includes senior first baseman Erika Coreth, who hit .531 with 24 RBIs to earn all-South Jersey and all-conference first-team recognition. The infield also includes senior second baseman and leadoff hitter Carli Egan, an all-conference first- teamer, and junior third baseman Maddie Gillen, an all-conference second-teamer. Junior Shannon Gasparovic is another key hitter who led the team with five home runs and 25 RBIs. Other returning starters are senior catcher Dominique Fiorentino and junior outfielder Briana Hoskins, and senior outfielders Maggie Foss and Kasie McNichol are other experienced veterans. Gasparovic and senior Gabby Merryman should handle the bulk of the pitching duties.
OUTLOOK: With a lot of new faces in the lineup last year, the Minutemaids still managed to finish with a 15-8 record after a 2-1 loss to Eastern in the sectional quarterfinals. They should be a team to watch this spring.
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Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 11 (January, 2016).
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