By Warren Rappleyea
Ocean Township High School’s softball team is coming off a solid 16-10 season and will have the bulk of its lineup back when it moves into the Shore Conference’s Class B North Division next spring.
Ocean Township also made it to the second round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group III tournament, where it fell to Ewing High School, 6-0, as Sara Beardon tossed a no-hitter.
The Spartans will move forward without shortstop Veronica Woehr, who spelled trouble with a capital “W” for opposing pitchers over the past four years. The first baseman batted .416 and whacked seven home runs to go with 17 RBIs. Woehr will continue her career at Brookdale Community College next season before moving on to the University of Delaware in September 2017.
“Veronica has been the face of our program for the past two years,” Spartans coach Ryan Pringle said. “She’s a tremendous player, but we’re also going to miss her leadership. She did all the little things, like talk to a player who is in a slump, discuss situations and just be there for her teammates. She led on and off the field.”
Fortunately, plenty of talent remains, including sophomore catcher/first baseman Emma Vasen, who hit .561 to lead the team and also blasted 10 home runs, also tops on the team, to go with 37 RBIs and a .644 on-base percentage.
Junior catcher/infielder Morgan Walsh led the Spartans with 43 RBIs while also whacking seven home runs and batting .449. Woehr, Walsh and Vasen are tied for the career lead in homers with 17 each. Junior third baseman Giovanna Russomano bounced back from a knee injury to hit .427 with two home runs and 25 RBIs while scoring 29 runs.
Second baseman Brianna Roskey hit .306, and Gabby Zimmerman impressed defensively in center field and showed promise with the bat as the season progressed. Both are sophomores. Freshman Carly Weisberg did a good job in left field, while hitting .214. Sophomore outfielders Kim Schmidt and Megan Valentine should play bigger roles next spring.
On the mound, Gianna Graziano is coming off a 12-10 campaign. She worked 151 innings and struck out 161 opposing hitters. The sophomore contributed at the plate as well, hitting .333 with 14 RBIs. Morgan Seibenberg, another sophomore, went 4-0 in the circle.
“We bring a lot of players back, and we’re going to need them in B North,” Pringle said. “We’re going to be playing tough games every day. That’s a division where you rarely see a team winning a game by 10 or more runs. The competition is good and you have to play your best every day.”
Ocean Township’s competition in B North includes Middletown High School North, which has won the Shore Conference two years running; Middletown High School South, which is coming off a trip to the Central Jersey, Group III finals; Red Bank Catholic High School; Manasquan High School; Wall High School; Monmouth Regional High School; and Long Branch High School.
“It will be a good test for our girls,” Pringle said.