By Matthew Rocco
The Red Bank Catholic (RBC) High School softball team is in the thick of a race for the Shore Conference B North Division title.
When they met on the field last week, Middletown High School North issued the Caseys their first division loss of the season. But the Caseys quickly rebounded with back-to-back wins over Middletown High School South and Manasquan High School, improving to 12-3 overall. With games against Donovan Catholic High School and Middletown North on the horizon, RBC will get another chance to prove itself against some of the best teams in New Jersey. The team also has a clear shot at a division championship, as a win over Middletown North would bring the two teams even in the loss column.
“I think the girls have done a great job. We’ve competed in our division, and our division is tough,” head coach Tony Flego said. “The girls have competed every day. They’ve put themselves in a position where they can succeed. Everything is in front of us — the division, the Shore Conference Tournament — and we can make some noise in the states. But again, we have to play well against the really solid teams. We can redeem ourselves.”
The Caseys (12-3) have little trouble producing runs, thanks to three sluggers at the top of the order.
Leadoff hitter Taylor Lane continued to shine at the plate in a 7-2 win against Middletown South, going 2-for-4 with a double, two stolen bases and three RBIs. Allison Tomaino, who bats second for the Caseys, had a four-hit game, as RBC exploded for 11 runs on 19 hits to beat Manasquan, 11-4. Both Lane and Tomaino are batting over .500 on the year.
Gabby Ciancio, the No. 3 hitter, has also fueled the offense. The junior catcher owns a batting average of .489. Flego also praised Ciancio’s work behind the plate, saying her pitch-calling abilities have made a positive impact on the defensive side.
“I think Gabby is one of the best catchers in the Shore,” Flego said, adding that Lane and Tomaino “cause havoc for the defense” with their speed on the base paths.
On the mound, junior Colby Coppola and sophomore Alexandra DiBenedetto have split time in the circle, and the two pitchers have six wins apiece.
“We have a one-two punch that I would match with anybody. They both support each other and have done a great job backing each other up,” Flego said.
The Caseys have dominated most of the games on their schedule, but they stumbled against three state powerhouses in Middletown North, Saint John Vianney High School and Mount Saint Dominic Academy. RBC’s rematch with Middletown North was scheduled for May 9. Donovan Catholic, which is undefeated at 19-0, will come to town May 15 for a 3:45 p.m. game — RBC’s final battle of the regular season.
Middletown North held a division record of 11-0 at the start of the week. Overall, the Lions are 15-1. The Caseys are right on their heels in the B North standings with an 11-1 record.
With some big games and the Shore Conference Tournament coming up, the Caseys are focused on their pitching and defense, Flego said.
“We have to keep ourselves in games. It comes down to pitching and defense. That’s what failed us in the big games so far. If we want to be the best, we have to beat those teams,” Flego said.
Before the Middletown North game, the Caseys were scheduled to play Marlboro High School on the road May 8. RBC faced Ocean Township High School May 10 at 3:45 p.m. Crosstown rival Red Bank Regional High School will visit Count Basie Park for a 7 p.m. game May 11.