Softball: Johnson Crusaders Lose to Bordentown HS in NJSIAA Central, Group 2 Semifinals

Arthur L. Johnson High School senior Shannon Brogan finishes her career with 152 hits. She expressed confidence in the juniors who will lead next year's team. Credits: Daniel Collins
At the plate, Arthur L. Johnson High School senior Gianna Randazza finishes her career with a .492 batting average, 192 hits, 26 home runs, 179 RBI's, 48 doubles and 17 triples. Credits: Daniel Collins
On the mound, Arthur L. Johnson High School senior Gianna Randazza finishes with a 59-21 record, 532 strikeouts over 128 innings pitched. She owes her success to the people who supported her. Credits: Daniel Collins
Arthur L. Johnson High School junior Nicole Cassano had a two-run double in the top of the third inning. Credits: Daniel Collins
Arthur L. Johnson High School sophomore Victoria Zatko had an RBI single in the top of the third inning. Credits: Daniel Collins

BORDENTOWN, NJ-  The Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders varsity softball team entered Friday’s game looking to defend their state sectional championship from last year, but following two bad innings, the No. 5 seeded Crusaders lost to the No. 1 seeded Bordentown High School Scotties in the NJSIAA Central, Group 2 Semifinals by a final score of 13-3 Friday afternoon in Bordentown.

The game was scoreless through the first two innings, before the Crusaders got on the board first in the top of the third inning.

After senior Shannon Brogan reached on a fielder’s choice and a walk to senior Gianna Randazza, junior Nicole Cassano sent a fly ball to right field, scoring both Brogan and Randazza to put Johnson ahead by a score of 2-0. Sophomore Victoria Zatko followed it up with an RBI single, scoring Cassano to give Johnson a 3-0 lead.

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Things appeared to be going well early for Johnson, but the game would immediately be taken over by the top-seeded Scotties.

After a leadoff double and a single to open the inning, Bordentown senior Amelia Ditolvo drove in one run with a single, scoring senior Annabella Marino to cut the lead to 3-1. The bases then became loaded following a walk and the runs kept coming for the Scotties, with still no outs.

Senior Anatasia Salera reached base, but the massive blunder in the field allowed the bases to clear and Bordentown suddenly took the lead, the score now 4-3 and the momentum clearly in favor of Bordentown. The Crusaders’ early lead was now gone and they struggled to contain Bordentown.

Once it was over, Bordentown scored six runs in the bottom of the third inning. Behind senior pitcher Debra Jones, they kept the defending state sectional champions from scoring any more runs as the rest of the game went along.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Scotties put the game out of reach by adding five more runs in the inning. Just like the bottom of the third inning, the Crusaders couldn’t get the early outs and the Scotties continued to make them pay.

Following an infield single, Ditolvo smacked a two-run home run to deep left field, making the score 8-3 Scotties. Later in the inning, they continued their dominance on offense. After a walk, a single and another walk, Mackenzie Drummond drilled a deep fly ball that cleared the bases, making the game 11-3 with the Scotties out in front.

After scoring two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Scotties secured the victory, with the game ending in the bottom of the sixth inning, with the score being 13-3 Bordentown.

Despite the loss, the Crusaders are holding their heads high with the run they had this season.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the girls,” Johnson head coach Chris Di Nucci said. “They played hard today, but give a lot of credit to Bordentown. They came out, they battled, they hit the ball and we made some miscues defensively, but we also hit the ball well and they made a lot of plays out there. They were better than us today, they’re a good softball team and tip your hats to them today.”

The loss also closes the door on the careers of seniors Gianna Randazza and Shannon Brogan, who were key players and leaders of the 2016 state sectional championship team.

On the mound, Randazza finishes her career with a 59-21 record and 532 strikeouts. At the plate, she finishes her career with a .490 batting average, 192 hits, 26 home runs, 179 RBI’s, 48 doubles, 17 triples.

Brogan finishes her career with a .428 batting average, 152 hits, 39 doubles, five triples, 81 RBI’s and 31 stolen bases.

Both talked about their careers and high hopes for the underclassmen taking over the program.

“Everything that I have accomplished at Johnson I owe all to the people who have supported me,” Randazza said. “I'm lucky to have had such amazing that I've had over these past 4 years, I've had nothing but fun and I'm surely going to miss Johnson softball and the team.”

“I've had a great experience playing Johnson softball,” Brogan said. “My teammates have been amazing and I couldn't have asked for a better coaching staff. I know that the team is going to do great things next year, and the juniors will make amazing leaders next year. I wish them all nothing but the best.”

The Johnson Crusaders finish their 2017 season with a 19-10 record.

The Bordentown Scotties (14-6) advance to the NJSIAA Central, Group 2 State Sectional Final. They will take on No. 2 seeded Robbinsville HS Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.

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