ALJ Sports Wrap-Up: Softball Wins Season Opener, Baseball Falls on Road, Lacrosse Wins Second Straight Game

Arthur L. Johnson High School senior Gianna Randazza capped off the Crusaders' seven-run, sixth inning with a towering three-run home run, giving her team a 12-5 lead at the time. Credits: Sue Brogan
Arthur L. Johnson High School senior Shannon Brogan went 4-for-5 with two doubles and eight RBI's to help the Crusaders to a 21-3 win over the Cranford High School Cougars. Credits: Sue Brogan (File Photo)
Arthur L. Johnson High School sophomore Victoria Zatko approaching home plate after hitting the go-ahead solo home run to give the Crusaders a 6-5 in the top of the sixth inning. Credits: Sue Brogan
The Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders win on Saturday over Elizabeth HS was the first one for new head coach Chris Di Nucci, who felt happy to finally get the season going. Credits: Sue Brogan
Arthur L. Johnson High School freshman second baseman Lia D'Angelo made a huge play in the bottom of the seventh inning, stopping Elizabeth, securing the 12-9 Crusaders win on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Credits: Sue Brogan
The coaches talking to the players following the victory over Elizabeth HS. Credits: Sue Brogan

CLARK, NJ – Rain delayed the opening of the Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders varsity baseball and softball seasons last week, with multiple games canceled due to the inclement weather. Both teams finally took to the field on Saturday, to complete in away season openers.

The girls played against the Elizabeth High School Minutemen in Elizabeth. With the game tied 5-5, the Crusaders broke it open with seven runs in the top of the sixth inning, building a 12-5 lead.

ALJ sophomore Victoria Zatko led off the inning with a solo home run to give the Crusaders a 6-5 lead, a big hit and a loud response to Elizabeth's tying run in the fifth. 

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A few batters later, sophomore Jenna Addie drove in two runs with a triple, increasing the lead to 8-5.

“It felt pretty nice since I haven’t been hitting well,” Addie said.

They weren’t done yet. Senior Shannon Brogan drove in a run to make it a 9-5 lead. The big blow came off the bat of senior Gianna Randazza, who belted the ball deep and out of the park, blowing the inning open, for a 12-5 lead.

Randazza went 2-for-4 with the home run, collecting five RBIs in the victory. Brogan went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a triple.

“It kind of helps take the pressure off of me when I'm pitching because the more runs we put up on the board the more confident I can be in the circle,” Randazza said.

Elizabeth wouldn’t go down without a fight, scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, closing the gap to 12-9. Freshman Lia D’Angelo made a huge play at second base to stop further damage and help Johnson close it out and secure the win.

“It was great to finally play and open up our season,” said head coach Chris Di Nucci, his first game and win in the top spot. “It was not our best game or the prettiest game, but it’s always nice to open up with a win.”

Crusaders baseball didn't fare as well, losing their road game against the Old Bridge High School Knights by a final score of 5-1 Saturday morning in Matawan.

Sophomore Brett DeCosta knocked in the lone run for the Crusaders.

They look to rebound in their home opener against Union Catholic HS Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.

The varsity lacrosse team was on the road Friday afternoon against the Nutley High School Raiders and with an overwhelming offensive performance, came out on top with a 13-0 win in Nutley.

In the win, sophomore Eric Bretz and junior Mike Bruno each scored three goals apiece, while freshman Evan Parenti and sophomore Brandon Hund each scored two goals in the victory, improving the lacrosse team’s record to 2-2.

They return home for a game against Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS Tuesday morning at 11:00 a.m.

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