Sports

Softball: Nicole Cassano and Megan Tinger Hit Home Runs as Johnson Crusaders Defeat South Plainfield HS in NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 Quarterfinals

24020ed8008116793e31_ALJ-South_Plainfield__4.JPG
Arthur L. Johnson High School senior Nicole Cassano greeted by her teammates at home plate after launching her solo home run to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning. Credits: Daniel Collins
c47673cdc82a9577da89_ALJ-South_Plainfield__1.JPG
Arthur L. Johnson High School senior starting pitcher Nicole Cassano recorded seven strikeouts, one walk, scattered four hits and allowed one run Wednesday afternoon against South Plainfield HS. Credits: Daniel Collins
d1927af9e74230847026_ALJ-South_Plainfield__2.JPG
Arthur L. Johnson High School junior Hannah Brogan opened the scoring with a two-run triple in the bottom of the second inning. She described the team's energy as helping them in the major spots. Credits: Daniel Collins
f89a02456be48d346736_ALJ-South_Plainfield__3.JPG
Nicole Cassano led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo home run to left field. It was her fourth blast of the season. Credits: Daniel Collins
e76da40ec2f0e1f3d5e4_ALJ-South_Plainfield__5.JPG
Arthur L. Johnson High School sophomore Megan Tinger sealed the game with a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. She was greeted by her teammates at the plate. Credits: Daniel Collins
1c42a67ce9e244733981_ALJ-South_Plainfield__6.JPG
The Johnson Crusaders (18-5) advance to the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 Semifinals. They will travel to play at second-seeded Bordentown HS Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Credits: Daniel Collins
24020ed8008116793e31_ALJ-South_Plainfield__4.JPG

CLARK, NJ-  The Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders varsity softball team hit the field hoping to continue their run in the state tournament against the South Plainfield High School Tigers, a battle between teams who won sectional titles the past two seasons (Johnson in 2016 and South Plainfield in 2017, defending Group 3 State Champions).

The third-seeded Crusaders received timely hitting in key innings, featuring big hits from junior Hannah Brogan, senior starting pitcher Nicole Cassano and sophomore Megan Tinger, part of a nine-hit attack to defeat the sixth-seeded Tigers 7-1 in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 Quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon in Clark.

The Johnson Crusaders (18-5) advance to the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 Semifinals for the fifth time in the past six seasons. They will travel to play at second-seeded Bordentown HS Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.

Sign Up for E-News

With one out in the bottom of the second inning, the Crusaders went right to work at the plate. After two straight singles, Hannah Brogan swung at a 1-0 pitch and sent the ball to deep right-center field for a triple, scoring senior Lauren Donah and sophomore courtesy runner Lia D’Angelo to give Johnson a 2-0 lead.

“Being able to get a hit in a big spot felt good because it helped out my team and allowed us to score first against a very good team,” Brogan said. “I think the energy our team had today helped us hitting in big spots today.”

It appeared that Johnson scored another run, with junior Bailey Rosenmeier hitting a flyball to center field for a sacrifice fly, scoring Brogan, but she was ruled out after she left third base early before the catch was made.

Cassano took the mound for Johnson and went right to work. She shut down South Plainfield through the first three innings before allowing the first base hit of the game to Holoboski in the top of the fourth inning.

“I knew I couldn’t underestimate [South Plainfield’s] batting and for me, I had to hit all my spots to make sure none of my pitches went down the middle and put a lot of spin on it,” Cassano said of her approach at the plate.

Overall, she struck out seven batters, walked one, scattering seven hits and allowing only one run in the top of the fifth inning.

“Nicole’s confidence and demeanor in the circle started us,” Johnson head coach Chris Di Nucci said. “She pitched great today, our defense behind her was awesome as well. Our catcher [Megan Tinger had] a great effort back there.”

Cassano helped her own cause at the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning. Facing an 0-2 count, she drilled the next pitch from Holoboski to left field, with enough distance to leave the ballpark for a leadoff solo home run, giving her team a 3-0 lead.

“When you play good teams, you’ve got to hit spots and that’s what [Jillian] was doing,” South Plainfield head coach Don Panzarella said.

The hitting coming in various portions of the game for Johnson appeared to break the ice with the pitching clinic on display from both Holoboski and Cassano.

“We were able to get up there from the first inning and were able to make contact,” Cassano said.

South Plainfield battled back in the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore Danielle DeCarlo was hit by a pitch and junior Taylor Santamaria singled to left field to put runners at first and second for the Tigers with no outs and a major opportunity to get back in the game.

Senior Jennifer Grasso singled with two outs, scoring DeCarlo to cut the Johnson lead to 3-1. Outside of the RBI single from Grasso, South Plainfield couldn’t add to it and the game went on.

The bottom of the sixth inning was where Johnson put the game out of reach. Senior Jen Tinger singled and went to second on a sacrifice bunt from senior Mackenzie Purcell. Cassano was intentionally walked and Donah singled on a bloop pop-up to load the bases with two outs.

“As the game went on and progressed, we were able to get more hits,” Cassano said of her team’s approach at the plate.

Megan Tinger stepped up and ahead in the pitching count, took the next pitch and sent it to deep left field for a grand slam, the lead becoming 7-1.

“I knew it was a good pitch and perfect opportunity to help out the team,” Megan Tinger said. “Most importantly, to help in any way possible to continue the seniors’ seasons.”

Cassano retired South Plainfield 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh inning to close the door and secure the win for her team.

“We haven’t been hitting for most of the season and that’s what’s killing us right now,” Panzarella said. “It’s just not hitting the ball. [It is also] when you only score one run a game and you don’t put pressure on a team. That’s what I’m disappointed at right now.”

The Tigers left five runners on base and were retired in order (1-2-3) in the top of the fourth, sixth and seventh innings. The Tigers only got four hits on the afternoon, all singles and no extra base hits and finish their 2018 season with a 17-9 record.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Clark

Upcoming Events

Thu, June 21, 1:15 PM

Calvary Lutheran Church, Cranford

Mid-Week Worship & Service

Thu, June 28, 1:15 PM

Calvary Lutheran Church, Cranford

Mid-Week Worship & Service

Libraries Rock! Summer Reading Kick-Off Dance Party

June 20, 2018

Put on your dancing shoes and head to the Clark Public Library for the kick-off of the annual Summer Reading Program On Monday June 25!  The Dance Party will run from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. with SuperSounds DJs playing today's favorite songs. Kids can register for the summer reading challenge, get their face painted or even get a temporary tattoo and make a ...

Student Struck by Car in Front of Edison School Thursday

June 21, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — An Edison Intermediate School student was struck by a car Thursday morning while crossing the street in front of the school. According to Police Chief David Wayman, he was transported to a hospital with a laceration.

In an email to parents, Principal Matt Bolton wrote that the student appeared to be doing well, and that he was following the crossing guard’s ...

Benefits and Potential Pitfalls of 529 College Saving Plans

Do you know the benefits and potential pitfalls of 529 College Saving Plans? Do you know when to use them?  Take a listen to Chris Curran's video below as he gives and overview of them and don't forget to check out his book College Funding Secrets.  

 

 

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 8, 2018

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by prominent ...

Obituaries

Jun 29, 1927 - Apr 23, 2018
Margaret (Peggy) Kirk Leonard passed away Monday, April 23rd, surrounded by her loved ones. Peggy ...
Read more