SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. -- Jillian Holoboski has a lot to accomplish and look forward to before the school year ends, but on Wednesday afternoon, the South Plainfield High School senior held a little ceremony and finalized her college decision.
Come next fall, Holoboski will attend Franklin and Marshall. In addition to taking history and politics classes, she will also play softball at the institution which is located in Lancaster, Pa.
“It’s unbelievable. I’m so incredibly grateful and blessed to have the opportunity,” Holoboski said. “It feels amazing to be where I am right now and it feels great to be done with it. There’s a sense of finality even though there’s a long way to go.”
Holoboski talked about what made her choose to become a Diplomat. It started with a visit that could have gone sour because of bad weather, but just opposite happened.
“I fell in love with the school first and foremost. Going into my junior year, I went on a huge college tour. Franklin and Marshall was my last one and I remember it was raining and really muggy, but I absolutely loved it,” Holoboski said. “I totally fell in love with it. Then, I went to a softball camp that year there and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, softball fits too’.”
Holoboski would go on and explain and the camp and the role it had in her recruitment.
“It was hardest camp. I couldn’t even bend the next day,” Holoboski said. “We did all of the conditioning, fielding, and hitting, and then at the end I was huffing and puffing and all of a sudden they wanted me to pitch. That’s also why I wanted to go there. I knew I was going to get pushed.”
At the time, Brooke Kalman was the head coach at Franklin and Marshall, but she resigned after just one season. She was named the new coach at MIT this past December.
Prior to her leaving, Kalman played a big part in why Holoboski verbally committed to go to Franklin and Marshall. Kalman played in the same conference at Gettysburg and was a catcher. Holoboski, a pitcher as well a third basemen, got to talk about philosophy and how she would play both positions.
Kalman’s departure hurt, but Holoboski’s heart was still set on the school no matter what.
“It was a true test of faith,” she said. “I knew I was going to make my decision on the basis of even if I didn’t or couldn’t play softball, I would still want to go to that school. I remained firm in my decision and I couldn’t be happier.”
Flanked by the support of her parents, Joe and Kelly, and older sister, Casidhe, Holoboski, who also has an older brother named Tyler, couldn’t stop smiling.
“It’s very exciting,” her mother said. “She’s my youngest of three but she was first athlete that got recruited. The process was interesting. It’s really gratifying. She worked hard for so many years.”
Holoboski said she was in contact with other programs such as Ramapo and Moravian, but Franklin and Marshall was always at the top of her list.
“I was lucky enough to find Franklin and Marshall early,” Holoboski said. “We were in constant contact. It worked out.”
In order to play for Franklin and Marshall, one must have high grades and extracurriculars to back that up. That was no problem for Holoboski, who is a member of the Spanish Honor Society and Student Leadership. She also helped co-found a new psychology club at the school as well.
And on the diamond, Holoboski really shines. She was an All-Greater Middlesex Conference pick in 2017 and 2018 by the coaches and was named to the All-Group 2 First Team last season by NJ.com and the All-Group 3 Second Team as a sophomore.
She also helped the Tigers as a third basemen win the Group 3 title in 2017 and play in the first ever Tournament of Champions.
Thus far in her career, Holoboski has 124 hits in 278 at-bats for .446 batting average with 80 runs scored, 81 RBI, 27 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, and 43 walks at the plate. On the rubber last year, she pitched 156.2 innings, allowed just 46 runs (25 earned) and 21 walks while striking out 129 batters and winning 16 games.
She was also legendary coach Don Panzarella’s first ever junior captain.
“Pitching went well last year. Every single position was played by someone who didn’t play there the previous year. Each position was filled with someone knew. We basically had an entirely new team coming off of the state championship my sophomore year. We adjusted well and I’m proud of last year. It was a challenge.
“I can’t wait to keep the momentum going this year.”
South Plainfield’s season gets going in early April.
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.