Winning the division championship was the target when this softball season started for Howell High School.
And Howell is about to hit that target.
The Rebels improved to 8-0 in the Shore Conference’s A-North Division when they swept past Marlboro High School, 10-3, in April 25 in Marlboro.
That victory also lifted the Rebels to 11-0 overall.
“It’s become a two-team race for the division between us and Freehold Township [High School]. We beat them earlier this year [5-2 on April 12], and we face them again soon [on May 2],” Howell assistant coach John Sciarappa said. “Early on, winning the division was our number one thing. We’re starting to separate ourselves now from the rest of the pack. But, yeah, that’s the big goal right now. Win our division.”
“Yeah, we have to stay tough,” senior pitcher Cassidy Predale said. “I really want to win this division. Winning the Monmouth County Tournament would be cool, too.”
In the victory against Marlboro, Predale was the winner with a two-hitter. She also struck out eight. She was the hitting star, too, with her home run.
Howell was well aware that Marlboro would be a tough foe.
“In between innings, I kept telling them ‘build a fence,'” Sciarappa said. “They’ve never heard me say that before. Marlboro is a good team. They were last year’s A-North champions. So, even though we beat them at our place earlier in the year, we knew that coming in here today would be tough. We talked about trying to get one run every inning. And we did that today. We scored every inning. We had one run in each of the first four innings. We just wanted to get base runners on and wear out their pitcher.”
“We knew that since we beat them the first time, that they were really going to come at us today,” Predale said. “Especially since this is their home turf. We really had to play our best to win this game, so I’m really proud.”
Howell had defeated Marlboro, 9-0, on April 11.
The Rebels will now fine tune their game with the post-season looming.
“I thought the biggest thing is that we’ve really shored up our defense,” Sciarappa said. “Cassidy has been working her butt off at hitting the strike zone. Once we continue to get that defense in top shape, we’ll be fine. I do love how we always grind at bats and really wear down opposing pitchers.”
“We definitely picked up the defense from the start of the year,” Predale said. “Now, I think we just have to continue to hit better. Just sit back and drive on the ball.”
Sciarappa praised some of Howell’s key players.
“I thought our shortstop [senior] Tara Daukshus has been playing really well for us,” Sciarappa said. “We have a senior catcher [Mackenzie Vogler] that’s been playing really well for us too, but Tara’s been coming on strong lately and has been in the middle of everything offensively and defensively for us.”
The Rebels will look to put the finishing touches on what could be a division crown on May 8 when they travel to play Freehold High School in a game slated to start at 3:45 p.m.