Redbirds’ offense comes to life in county tournament opener


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By Wayne Witkowski

Allentown High School’s softball team hopes it roused its slumbering offense heading into the second round of the Mercer County Tournament (MCT).

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Alyssa Notarianni, who remains the hot hitter in the Redbirds offense this season with a .485 batting average and 29 RBIs, belted a three-run homer in the first inning to catapult the Redbirds to an opening-round victory, 6-1, over West Windsor Plainsboro High School North May 6.

The victory sent the Redbirds into a second-round showdown with Robbinsville High School scheduled for a May 9.

The home run was all senior pitcher Kayla Peterson needed. She scattered seven hits with three strikeouts and did not walk a batter. She lost her shutout with two out in the last inning.

Allentown avenged a 5-2 loss to West Windsor Plainsboro North (7-9) early in the season and also was looking for revenge against Robbinsville, a 7-0 victor in a game earlier this season that dictated the Colonial Valley Conference Patriot Division lead. Robbinsville came into the week 11-2 and riding a three-game winning streak.

“I hope this is a turning point because now we’re getting into the time when it means something,” coach Kim Maurer said, referring to the MCT and upcoming NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group III tournament.

A five-game losing stretch prior to its county tournament opener, in which Allentown scored only eight runs combined, was a departure from early in the season when Allentown (12-7) started the season 10-1 and scored eight or more runs in half of those victories.

“The last time we lost to [West Windsor-Plainsboro] North, we left 11 on base, which was so frustrating. And this time, we left only five. That’s been happening lately,” the coach said. “We left 12 on against Hightstown [High School] — a very good team — and it was good to get runners on against them. But we weren’t getting timely hits. This time, our fielding was good, our pitching was good and we hit the ball.”

In that 4-1 loss to Hightstown (13-3) May 2 leading into the MCT, Peterson allowed seven hits and Madison Storey drove in the Redbirds’ lone run.

The way things were going, Maurer said she was not hoping for the long ball — just singles to keep a rally going to get some runs. But she said she felt the big blow finally took off some pressure. Afterward, Peterson called the early uprising comforting to finally get some substantial run support again, and Maurer noted that her pitcher had changed her selection a bit, relying more on a changeup.

“Kayla pitched very well, mixing her pitches and her changeup was on, which kept them off-balance, and we turned three double plays,” Maurer said of Peterson.

Peterson is 8-6 with a solid 31-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 90.2 innings. She has allowed 99 hits, relying on coaxing hitters to swing late into routine groundouts.

Allentown had gotten off to a fast start in many early-season games, and Notarianni’s hit this time dictated the tempo early.

“It got the energy going,” Notarianni said of her home run.

She had another run-scoring hit, and Storey contributed two hits and an RBI. Brianna McGowan drove in the other run — all of those RBIs coming in the three-run fifth inning that put the Redbirds in a commanding 6-0 lead.


Allentown had a 5-2 edge in hits, but Princeton Day School came away with a 1-0 victory in the opening round of the MCT May 2. Allentown (6-7), which needs a winning record over its first 15 games to be guaranteed a spot in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group III tournament, was scheduled to play Trenton Central High School (1-15) May 9 and Nottingham High School (12-5) at home May 10.

Guiseppe Arcuri, Ryan Huth and Robbie Matos lined doubles but could not score, and Jordan Winston struck out 12 over the distance in the tough-luck loss to Princeton Day School. It was the third shutout loss this season for Allentown, which also dropped 5-0 outcomes to Hopewell Valley Central High School and Hamilton High School West.

Boys lacrosse

Jared Twamley scored the game-winning goal in Robbinsville’s 3-1 fourth-quarter rally en route to its 8-7 victory over sixth-seeded Allentown May 6 in the quarterfinals of the MCT in Robbinsville. Robbinsville (11-2), which has won 10 straight games, outscored Allentown, 6-3, in the second half.

Allentown (5-8) had advanced to the quarterfinals with a 13-3 victory over Lawrence High School that ended a three-game losing streak, as Kyle Moore fired in four goals and Kevin Moore and Nick Stagnitti each knocked in two. Connor Provost had a goal and two assists, and Zack Powdermaker made four saves in goal.

Girls lacrosse

Kali Hartshorn pulled Allentown (9-5) to 4-3 before top-seeded Hopewell Valley (14-3) closed the first half with five unanswered goals on its way to an 18-8 victory in the MCT semifinals.

Hartshorn finished with three goals while younger sister Marin Hartshorn and Alyssa Sloane each scored twice. Danielle Sullivan put in the other goal. Abby Howell made seven saves.

Allentown had won five straight and advanced to the semifinals with an 18-2 victory over Steinert High School April 29 and a 10-6 triumph over Princeton High School May 3, as Kali Hartshorn had four goals and two assists.

The Redbirds were scheduled to host Robbinsville May 9.

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