Coach Rosner hopes to take Rockets softball to next level


By Wayne Witkowski

Marc Rosner believed in playing it game by game the past two seasons as he built Middletown High School North’s softball team toward back-to-back Shore Conference Tournament championships — its first titles in that tournament since 1974.

Now, Rosner takes that approach with his new team at Raritan High School as he looks to continue building the team to even greater heights.

“We’re working to get better each day,” Rosner said. “We’re taking it one game at a time because the division is so competitive.”

Rosner changed schools because he got the opportunity he has wanted as a full-time teacher in the special education department there. He succeeds Aado Kommendant, who in his eight years coached the Rockets to their eight most winning seasons in club history but was not rehired by the school board — an outcome that was met with some sharp criticism in the Raritan community and some state high school softball circles.

It has added a challenge to Rosner — to win over the critics — and he feels he has gotten the Rockets on their way in a 2-1 start.

Raritan opened the season with a 6-2 victory over Mater Dei Prep and then pummeled Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, 15-0, in its Shore Conference A Central Division opener, as freshman shortstop Morgan O’Donnell drove in five runs and senior pitcher Nicole Kirse pitched a one-hitter with seven strikeouts and no walks. Sophomore Nicole Buckley, a pitcher who also plays as a designated player, belted two home runs in those games.

Washington Township High School brought the Rockets back down to earth in the Rancocas Valley Regional High School Tournament April 8 when they scored a 9-0 victory. Kirse had two of Raritan’s five hits.

Except for ace pitcher Nicole Coppolino, everyone returns from last year’s team that finished 16-10, losing to eventual state champion Arthur L. Johnson High School, 2-1, in the second round and falling, 5-1, to Middletown High School South in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals. Middletown North beat Middletown South in the conference tournament finals the past two years.

Lily Tomasiello, another freshman, starts at first base. Sophomore Brooke Brady is the second baseman, junior Ashley Marino is the third baseman and senior Michelle Nestor is catcher. Last year’s starting outfield returns with sophomore Gabbie Zweidinger in left field, junior Annalesa DiLaurenzio in center and senior Hallie Barone in right. Another senior, Marisa Lepard, also plays in the outfield.

“We have a good mix of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors,” Rosner said. “The girls are working hard and pushing themselves to improve.”

Buckley led the way against Mater Dei with three hits and four RBIs, while Tomasiello chipped in two hits and an RBI.

Along with O’Donnell, Kirse also backed up the victory over Rumson-Fair Haven with two hits, including a home run and three RBIs. Buckley drove in two runs with two hits, and Zweidinger and Nestor each knocked in two runs.

Raritan played at Shore Regional High School April 11 and hosts Holmdel High School at 3:45 p.m. April 13.