By Matthew Rocco
The Red Bank Catholic (RBC) High School softball team is set up to defend its division title in 2017.
The Caseys survived a grueling schedule last season to become Shore Conference B North Division champions. This spring, none of the B North schools can expect a break, as Middletown High School North, Middletown High School South and Manasquan High School join the fray.
But RBC brings back several key players from last year’s division-winning team, giving the Caseys a strong group of veterans and a clear path to a postseason run. In 2016, the Caseys went 19-11 overall and made an appearance in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals, as well as the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public, South A semifinals.
Talented center fielder Taylor Lane, who is bound for Syracuse University, returns for her junior season. Lane is a centerpiece of the Caseys’ lineup, and she is penciled in for the middle of the order.
Allison Tomaino, a junior and Bryant University commit, made a name for herself last season as a sparkplug at the top of the order. The second baseman batted .451 on the year, finishing among the Shore Conference leaders in hitting.
Junior catcher Gabby Ciancio is back behind the plate for the Caseys.
Saint Peter’s University commit Michelle Kugelmann and infielder Dana McCulloch will lead RBC’s large senior class, which includes utility player Lauren Cleary, outfielder Sarah Costa, infielder Siobhan Cottell, outfielder Camryn Hurley and outfielder and designated player Maggie Rue.
Colby Copola returns as the Caseys’ ace of the pitching staff. RBC will also call on sophomore pitcher Alexandra DiBenedetto, who plays second base as well.
Head coach Tony Flego enters his seventh season at the helm one win away from his 100th career victory.
The Caseys were originally scheduled to open the 2017 season April 1 at Toms River High School East, but that game was postponed. RBC played their season opener April 3 in a home game against Long Branch High School.
The Caseys will remain home to face Ocean Township High School April 5, with first pitch at 3:45 p.m.