Caity Hughes smacks two-run home run, but Black falls to Pink, 7-6, in the 2017 GMC senior softball All-Star Classic

Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
c Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky

SOUTH PLAINFIELD -- Thirty-eight seniors from the Greater Middlesex Conference all came together after competing against each other all season long Tuesday night just days before their graduation commencements for the GMC Softball Coaches Association All-Star Classic at Pony/Pitt Street Park in South Plainfield.

The players split between the Pink and Black teams, including South Plainfield’s own shortstop/center fielder Caity Hughes, pitcher Katherine Vill, and catcher Camryn Schaeffer who were all on the Black squad. Tigers head coach Don Panzarella, who is second in the state in all-time wins with 732 managed the Black team, while South Brunswick’s Heather Wells coached-up Pink.

And at the end of the nine-inning affair on the hot and muggy night full of smiles and laughter, it was Pink who outlasted Black thanks to a four-run top of the eighth.

Sign Up for E-News

“Yesterday was a little weird being with so many amazing players,” Hughes said referencing her appearance in the talent-packed N.J. Pride Super 36 All-Star Game which took place on Monday at Ivy Hill Park. “It was an awesome feeling to be there with them. This game was so much fun. You just kind of have to enjoy it.”

After Sayreville’s Kelly Duffy pitched the sixth and seventh innings without much effort striking out four of the seven batters she faced for the Black team, she ran into some trouble in the top of the eighth. South Brunswick’s Haley Grossi led-off with a walk, then back-to-back singles by Jaime Klemas (South Brunswick) and Alex Steele (Dunellen) make it 6-4. Later, Edison’s Bianca Newsom hit a soft two-RBI single which just nipped the right field line to tie the game at 6-6. Brooke Bandola of Metuchen then hit the deciding RBI single to score Catie Koenig of Mother Seton.

Garrick earned the win tossing four innings while fanning nine. Duffy took the loss.

It looked like the Black team would take the game with six unanswered runs -- including four in the bottom of the seventh -- after trailing 3-0 after four. In the seventh, Pink’s Mackenzie Garrick struck out five batters in the frame, but three of them reached on passed balls. The big blow in the inning came off the bat of Hughes who blasted a two-run home run over the center field fence to put Black up 6-3 at that point after two other runs already scored.

“It was an amazing moment. I definitely wanted to hit one,” said Hughes, who went 1-for-2 with a walk, two RBI, and two runs scored on the night. “I obviously wasn’t prepared to, but it was awesome. It’s good to go out like that.”

Hughes saw time in both the outfield and at shortstop in the game, something she did based on team need this season for South Plainfield. The speedster hit .505 with 54 hits, 44 runs scored, 26 RBI, 11 triples, six home runs, six doubles, 22 stolen bases, and 15 walks in 2017, helping Tigers go 27-5. South Plainfield fell in the GMC Tournament final to Wells’ Vikings, but flipped the page and won the NJSIAA Group 3 title and participated in the first ever softball Tournament of Champions. They were also crowned North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 victors along the way.

In her stellar four-year career on the softball field, Hughes became the school’s all time hits leader with 172. She finished with a .438 batting average and amassed 139 runs scored, 78 RBI, 29 triples, 21 doubles, 12 homers, 42 walks, and 39 stolen bases.

This past season, Hughes shared captain status with Vill and Schaeffer, who all had remarkable careers in green as well. Vill left her mark with a school-record 85 wins from the circle. She also struck out a whopping 649 batters in her four years to only 144 walks. She also came out on the losing end only 20 times. In the GMC All-Star Game, Vill however gave up three runs with two of them being earned -- including a solo home run to Steele -- while striking out four in five innings.

Schaeffer, who battled an ankle injury in the postseason, injured her arm and hand trying to make a lunging tag at home plate, but brushed it off. The standout backstop rounded out her Tigers’ journey batting .340 totaling 108 hits, 84 RBI, 69 runs scored, 33 doubles, and four home runs.

Both Vill and Schaeffer, who have spent so much time together on the field, went 0-3 from the plate in the game, waved to each other before warmups at the start of the inning, and played pitch and catch together for the final time. Schaeffer is off to continue her academic and athletic career Kean University while Vill will do the same at Dickinson College.

And for the multi-sport athlete Hughes, who also finished No. 1 in all-time goals scored in field hockey in the fall and No. 1 in steals in basketball in the winter, she’s off to Georgian Court University on a scholarship.

When asked how she wanted to be remembered, Hughes just said she hoped to make an impact. She did that and then some. And having now played her final high school game of any kind, the tireless Hughes got choked up a little bit when asked for her thoughts on the matter.

“I’m going to miss it so much,” she said. “I don’t even like thinking about it honestly. I get emotional. I definitely want to leave my name (in high regards). I played all kinds of different sports. It would be nice to be remembered as one of the best players ever. It’s been awesome playing here and I will miss it a lot.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

Police Blotter

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

Upcoming Events

Sat, March 24

Black Diamond Billiard's, Union

Ladies 9-Ball Pro-Am by the Garden State Pool Tour

Other Sports

Sat, March 24, 8:30 AM

East Brunswick

Spinathon 2018


Sun, March 25, 3:00 PM

Mayo Performing Arts Center, Morristown

New Jersey Ballet's Hansel & Gretel

Arts & Entertainment

Murphy’s Puerto Rico Relief Commission Looks to Connect Families to Resources

March 20, 2018

PERTH AMBOY - Stephanie Márquez-Villafañe, president of the student-based Puerto Rican action group Rutgers Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, offers a sobering assessment of New Jersey’s Puerto Rican student community in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in recorded history.

"University students have ...

East Brunswick's Girl Scouts Work with a Young Woman's Busy Schedule

March 21, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Have you wanted to join a Girl Scout troop, but just don't have the time? Check out this out. Busy teens can be Independent Girl Scouts -- all the programs and awards without the scheduled troop meetings. Teen girls can do badge work, attend events, travel, earn awards or do community service on their own time. (And ...

Murphy’s Puerto Rico Relief Commission Looks to Connect Families to Resources

PERTH AMBOY - Stephanie Márquez-Villafañe, president of the student-based Puerto Rican action group Rutgers Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, offers a sobering assessment of New Jersey’s Puerto Rican student community in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in recorded history.

"University students have ...

Rutgers voices support for proposed state budget

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University officials have often been wary of the governor's annual budget message, wondering what type of budget cuts the university may sustain and how it would potentially impact tuition and the overall quality of education.

This budget message, delivered March 13, appears to be a sigh of relief.

Pete McDonough, Vice President of External Affairs at ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...

Middlesex County Young Republicans Host "Road to Victory" Event at the Green Turtle

March 21, 2018

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ -  Middlesex County Young Republican Chairman John Steiner would like to announce the Middlesex County Young Republicans "Road to Victory" Reception, which will take place on March 22 at the Green Turtle in North Brunswick from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM.

This event will serve as the official launch for the 2018 campaign season for the Middlesex ...

Rep. Watson Coleman Urges Support for Students Participating in Protests: Letter to Local School Officials Asks for Encouragement Rather Than Punishment

EWING, NJ – Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) sent letters to principals and other school administrators in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District urging support and encouragement for students who engage in protests and demonstrations for gun violence prevention amid reports that some New Jersey schools had suspended or otherwise punished students for their ...

ECSNJ Partnership with Rutgers Behavioral Health Helps Students Manage Life’s Challenges

PISCATAWAY – A collaboration with Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care is providing more behavioral and emotional support for students attending two Educational Services Commission of New Jersey (ESCNJ) schools.

Appearing on ESCNJ’s Better Together podcast, Assistant Superintendent Gary Molenaar said Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care “is a recognized ...