SOUTH PLAINFIELD -- Julia Parker struck out batters left and right from the circle. She also was a force offensive at the plate.
With her standout efforts on the softball field this spring, the St. John Vianney sophomore and South Plainfield native earned All-State First Team honors by NJ.com it was announced last week. Parker was also an All-Non-Public First Team pick as well.
On the rubber, Parker went 22-2 with 196 strikeouts to only 32 walks, 18 earned runs allowed, and 72 hits given up in 151 innings. From the batter’s box, Parker batted .379 with 33 hits including six doubles and five home runs. She also tallied 19 RBI, 12 walks, and 11 runs scored.
“It was such an incredible feeling seeing my name on the list for the All-State First Team especially because of the amount of talent New Jersey has,” Parker said.
Asked what attributed to her outstanding pitching and overall play in 2018, Parker quickly deferred to her teammates, which all helped the Lancers made the Tournament of Champions and earn a No. 2 ranking in the state.
“My team was the No. 1 reason for my excellent season,” Parker said. “The team that had this year was something special and I was so grateful to be pitching behind such a solid defense and explosive offense.”
While Parker was dominant all season long, she was at her best in the biggest games. In the Monmouth County Tournament championship against Middletown North, which ended the year ranked No. 8, Parker got the win retired 18 of the game’s final 19 batters including 16 in a row, and gave up just two runs (one earned) with six strikeouts. She also hit an RBI-single in the first inning.
In the South Jersey, Non-Public A title game against No. 3 Donovan Catholic, Parker silenced arguably the top offense in the state. Parker helped St. John Vianney win its first sectional crown in five years as she tossed a three-hit shutout, her second in two games at that point. Coming into the game, Donovan Catholic had scored at least 10 runs in all but five games. Parker got the final out in the seventh inning of the game with two runners on base. Parker and the Lancers would go on to beat No. 6 Mount. St. Dominic in the Non-Public A final for their first title since 2013. She conceded just one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out seven. St. John Vianney coach Kimberlee Lombardi recently called Parker “a big game pitcher”.
“In pressure situations, I love to just take a deep breath and just calm down,” Parker said. “I know I can trust my pitches and know my defense would make the plays behind me.”
With her poise and laser focus, one might be soon to forget that Parker is still young. But when she’s on the field, no matter if she’s batting or pitching, she doesn’t play like she is.
“At the plate I always have the same mindset that I have on the rubber, play like a senior and not a sophomore,” Parker said.
Parker was instrumental in St. John Vianney’s stellar 27-2 season, and even though her native South Plainfield High School has a talented softball program back home under legendary head coach Don Panzarella, the sport’s all-time wins leader in the state, Parker will continue on and travel south to Holmdel and play for the Lancers.
“This season was so special winning the state championship and it was such a great year for the team. St. John Vianney has become my home the past two seasons and I could never imagine myself not playing for and with my teammates and coach,” Parker said.
“I’m so grateful for my teammates this season and there are so many memories we made. I am so excited to have two more years with this program.”
South Plainfield High School’s Jillian Holoboski made the All-Group 2 first team while MaKayla Sosa (second team) and Jennifer Grasso (third team) received honors as well courtesy of NJ.com.
Grasso, Sosa, and Holoboski were also named to the Home News Tribune All-Area Softball First Team. Cameron Marks was listed as an Honorable Mention.
According to the Greater Middlesex Conference coaches, Sosa, Holoboski, and Grasso made All-Conference and All-White Division as well.