CLARK, NJ - Jennifer Kane, Brittany Rifenburg, Georgia Kartelias, Heather Cutler, Jonni Sheehan and Megan Pardo never got to play their final season for the Spotswood High School varsity softball team. The 2020 spring sports season was canceled right after tryouts back in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, the six seniors, who graduated on July 9, got to have a final at bat in the Senior Spectacular 2020 Tournament.
Six teams took the field at the Clark Softball Complex over the course of three days last week for one final high school softball tournament. The participating teams included Spotswood, South Plainfield, JFK, Raritan, Marlboro and Clark.
"The South Plainfield and Clark coaches organized this tournament to give the Class of 2020 softball players a chance to compete one last time with their friends and teammates," explained Spotswood High School head softball coach Vincent Vizzi. "After discussing the opportunity with our seniors the majority of them wanted to take the field and compete. We were lucky and appreciative of each of our girls playing to give our seniors this experience."
Much like the Last Dance baseball tournament, the Senior Spectacular was not sanctioned by the governing body of New Jersey High School sports, the NJSIAA. The softball tournament was not affiliated with any of the six high schools. It was sanctioned by USA Softball.
In addition to the six seniors, the rest of Spotswood's roster included Diana Rucinski, Lauren Guyette, Gianna Perez, Cynthia Rucinski, Alex Diaz, Jennifer Pokropinski, Gabby Diaz and Karina Jennings.
Much like Senior Day at Spotswood High School, Kane, Rifenburg, Kartelias, Cutler, Sheehan and Pardo got to pose for pictures with their fellow seniors, teammates and families while posters highlighting their time as Chargers' softball players adorned the surrounding fences.
"I'd say the highlight of the tournament was the opportunity to have a true Senior Night under the lights," Vizzi said. "Being able to recognize each of the seniors playing and having them escorted onto the field prior to the start of the game with their parents was a moment they will remember for years to come. Hats off to the organizers of this event to give each team a night game to honor the Class of 2020."
Game three was a big night for the Chargers. Kartelias ended the extra inning game in dramatic fashion by hitting a game-winning double.
"After a back and forth battle between us and Raritan, our squad was determined to do anything to send our seniors out with a win," Vizzi said of the game three extra inning victory. "It was a complete team effort over the course of nine innings."
"As a coaching staff, we were excited for our seniors and could not be more proud of how they navigated and overcame these past few months," Vizzi added. "Each of them have tremendously bright futures in front of them and we wish them nothing but the best."