HOLMDEL, NJ - The reliable pitching of Julia Parker has been a major factor in the St. John Vianney High School softball team’s currently undefeated season, and in Tuesday afternoon’s post-season matchup between the Lancers and Bishop Ahr, the young pitcher continued the trend.
Parker tossed a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts to help the second-seeded Lancers (25-0) roll to a 7-0 home win over third-seeded Bishop Ahr in the semifinals of the South Jersey Non-Public A tournament.
SJV, the defending sectional champs, will be looking to earn its 10th sectional title in Thursday’s championship game at Rowan University.
The junior South Plainfield native started the semifinal off by striking out two in the top of the first inning and kept the Trojans (20-2) at bay for most of the game, as the visiting team was only able to get on base off three walks and a pair of errors. An error at centerfield in the sixth inning put Bishop Ahr's Megan Herka in scoring position at second base, but Parker forced a ground-out double play in the next at-bat to end the inning and keep the shutout alive.
“I was just really confident in my pitches, said Parker. “I trusted in my coach, and I knew, behind me, even if we made a few mistakes, we’d make up for it in our hitting.”
Parker helped out at the plate as well, and finished the game 3-for-3 including an RBI single in the bottom of the first that brought Gabby Polera home for the Lancers’ third run of the game. Jessica Campana hit a two-RBI double for SJV in the fifth inning to make the score 7-0. Haley Ahr went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Polera and Ally Jones btith recorded a hit and an RBI. Lead-off hitter Alexa Agrapides hit a double in the first at-bat of the game to get the ball rolling for SJV.
SJV head coach Kim Lombardi spoke highly of Bishop Ahr after the game, and said her players did exactly what they needed to do, hitting-wise, to get the win.
“ I was expecting that if we hit the ball the way we’re capable of, we’d win the game, Lombardi said. “So the game kind of went the way I thought it would if we played our game,”
“Julia has a great abundance of pitches and she does a great job of keeping them off balance, the coach added. “(Her going) 3-for-3 was also huge for us.”
The coach also noted that her players, specifically Parker, Agrapides, Campana and Ahr have stepped up in a big way since the beginning of the postseason.
With the win, the Lancers will take on top-seeded Donovan Catholic in what will be a rematch of last year's sectional sectional final. SJV will also have a chance at getting revenge for its last loss, which came at the hands of Donovan Catholic in last year's Shore Conference Tournament. Before that though, SJV will need to take care of business against Matawan tomorrow in the semifinals of this year's Shore Conference Tournament.
The regular season matchup between the SJV and Matawan was a surprisingly competitive affair that ended with an SJV extra-innings walk-off. Matawan’s Alissa Eimont managed to hold the Lancers to just four hits in eight innings in the previous matchup.Tomorrow’s matchup will be hosted by the top-seeded Lancers.
“They have a great pitcher over at Matawan,” Lombardi said. “If we play our game I’ll think we’ll be good.”