By Warren Rappleyea
The Sayreville War Memorial High School softball team ended the spring with an 18-5 record and made its way to the semifinals of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Central Jersey, Group IV tournament.
Top-seeded Montgomery High School pitcher Peyton Schnackenberg struck out 10 and limited the fifth-seeded Bombers to just three hits to post a 3-1 victory May 24 in the tournament. It was one of just three times this spring the Bombers were held to a single run.
Sayreville scored a 7-3 success over 12th-seeded Colts Neck High School in the tournament opener May 18. Kelly Duffy tossed a six-hitter and also homered and drove home four runs.
Prior to playing Montgomery, coach Christa De Lucia’s team had just come off back-to-back games with South Brunswick High School. The Bombers prevailed, 6-3, May 23 in a Central Jersey, Group IV quarterfinals game. Ryane Brush hammered out three hits, including a home run, and drove in three runs. Emma Herrick also homered and had three RBIs, and Kayla Stvan added three hits.
The previous day, South Brunswick squeezed past Sayreville, 2-1, in the semifinals of the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament, despite a 10-strikeout performance by Duffy. Freshman Ashley Cannon drove in the lone run for the Blue and Gray.
Sayreville, which had the third seed, defeated sixth-seeded Old Bridge High School, 5-2, May 17 in the GMC Tournament quarterfinals. Duffy tossed a two-hitter and struck out seven to earn the win. Brush whacked a homer and drove in three runs. Morgan Wehrle and Stvan each had an RBI.
The Bombers easily bested 14th-seeded North Brunswick Township High School, 19-0, in an opening-round game. Stvan had two doubles and four RBIs, while Sam Emolo and Wehrle drove in two runs apiece.
Four-year starters Duffy and Brush, the shortstop, will graduate in June. Duffy handled a heavy workload in the circle, tossing 139 innings on the season. She won 16 games and compiled 147 strikeouts. At the plate, Duffy led the Bombers with a .546 batting average and 29 RBIs. She also scored 29 times and tied Brush for the team lead in home runs with seven. Brush ended the season at .475 with 25 RBIs and 24 runs scored.
“They’ve been mainstays ever since they got here,” De Lucia said of Duffy and Brush. “We counted on them both for a lot. They will be missed.”
The good news for De Lucia is that plenty of offensive talent remains. Stvan, a junior, is coming off a .447 campaign with 27 RBIs and a team-high 30 runs scored. Emma Herrick hit .329 with three homers and 22 RBIs, and Ashley Mandala batted .273 with 13 RBIs. Both are juniors.
Three key sophomores also return: Wehrle, a .377 hitter with 18 RBIs; Emolo, who batted .348 with 22 RBIs; and Jalyn Dzamba, who hit .263 with 12 RBIs. Cannon, who hurled 14 innings this season, will likely play a bigger role in 2018.