SOUTH PLAINFIELD -- The South Plainfield High School softball team was in need of a big performance in more than one way today. Coming off a tough 2-1 loss at the hands of J.P. Stevens the Lady Tigers (19-3) hosted Spotswood in the first round of the GMC tournament.
The top-seeded South Plainfield team needed a return to form today and that’s exactly what they got. Strong outings in the circle and behind the plate led the Lady Tigers to a 7-0 victory and a spot in the tournament’s second round.
South Plainfield head coach Don Panzarella said today’s game laid down a template of what they have to do make serious runs in the conference and state tournaments.
“We’ve got to hit the ball and we hit the ball a little better today,” Panzarella said. “That’s going to be what we’re going to need to win some of those games. They played real well.”
There were plenty of standout performances from South Plainfield’s players today, but it’d be hard to say anyone stood out more than Camryn Schaeffer. The senior catcher went 4-for-4 and topped the day off by recording her 100th career hit.
The milestone came off her last hit of the game, which was a well placed double in the bottom of the sixth inning. The South Plainfield senior admitted she wasn't’t expecting to reach the 100 mark today, but nonetheless she was more than happy to pull the feat off.
“It feels so amazing,” Schaeffer said after the game. “Everyone since they’re a freshman that’s what they want to do. I was very close for a long time, but it feels good to do it today. My lucky charm, my cousin Jordan, was here today, and it was the GMC tournament’s first round. It was a big game for us so it was just awesome to get it today.”
Caity Hughes put South Plainfield’s first run on the scoreboard when she reached home after an errant pitch in the bottom of the first inning. Jillian Hobolski batted Jennifer Grasso home later to make it 2-0 before the inning ended.
Holoboski went 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI, while Cameron Marks hit two doubles in three at-bats, while sending two runners home. Hughes finished with two hits and an RBI, while MaKayla Sosa and Katherine Vill both recorded a hit.
Vill excelled in the circle, striking out 14 batters while giving up just four hits and no walks.
The schedule is just heating up for the Lady Tigers as they’ll be taking on one of their fiercest rivals, ninth-seeded Bishop Ahr, in the GMCT’s second round on Wednesday. South Plainfield will also begin state competiton this week, as they’ll be the third-seed when they begin the North 2 Group 3 tournament against 14th-seeded Somerville on Thursday.
“ It’s a big week for us,” said Panzarella. "It’s going to be tough,; I’m excited. You have to do the little things to win the big ones, so that’s what we’re going to have to do."
South Plainfield’s players are also excited for their tournament play this week. Wednesday’s GMC tournament matchup will be the third time the Trojans and the Lady Tigers play against each other. Bishop Ahr won the most recent game off with a walk-off.
“Bishop Ahr is one of our rivals so we’re going in big,” said Schaeffer. “Losing is not an option anymore. From now on, everyone is 0-0 so you have to keep going and keep winning. We’re pretty confident.”