Home Examiner Examiner Sports Allentown defeats Ocean Township, 6-3, to advance to state sectional semifinal

Allentown defeats Ocean Township, 6-3, to advance to state sectional semifinal

  1 / 4 
Allentown High School catcher Holly Muni celebrates tagging out an Ocean Township runner at home plate during a game on June 4 in Allentown. Allentown defeated Ocean Township 6-3 to advance to the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group III Tournament.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  2 / 4 
Allentown High School first baseman Kaylee Mushinski smacks a single to center field during a game against Ocean Township on June 4 in Allentown. Mushinski had two RBI and a run scored in the contest for Allentown.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  3 / 4 
Allentown High School center fielder Andie Murray throws out an Ocean Township runner at home plate during a game played on June 9 in Allentown. Allentown won 6-3 to advance to its first sectional semifinal since 2013. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  4 / 4 
Allentown High School starting pitcher Skyler LaFisca wheels and fires a pitch to home plate during a game against Ocean Township on June 4 in Allentown. LaFisca had seven strikeouts in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
×
  1 / 4 
Allentown High School catcher Holly Muni celebrates tagging out an Ocean Township runner at home plate during a game on June 4 in Allentown. Allentown defeated Ocean Township 6-3 to advance to the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group III Tournament.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  2 / 4 
Allentown High School first baseman Kaylee Mushinski smacks a single to center field during a game against Ocean Township on June 4 in Allentown. Mushinski had two RBI and a run scored in the contest for Allentown.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  3 / 4 
Allentown High School center fielder Andie Murray throws out an Ocean Township runner at home plate during a game played on June 9 in Allentown. Allentown won 6-3 to advance to its first sectional semifinal since 2013. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  4 / 4 
Allentown High School starting pitcher Skyler LaFisca wheels and fires a pitch to home plate during a game against Ocean Township on June 4 in Allentown. LaFisca had seven strikeouts in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

The jury was out on what to expect from the Allentown High School softball team coming into the 2021 season, but Coach Richard Dawson knew his players had the talent to be a winning squad.

Dawson had to get his players to start believing in themselves and help them understand they were a championship-caliber team. He got his players to believe in their skills and the Redbirds have turned heads with their stellar play.

On June 4 in Allentown, the Redbirds (15-6) defeated Ocean Township High School, 6-3, in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III state sectional tournament.

The win over the Spartans sent the Redbirds to the state sectional semifinals for the first time since 2013. Allentown is scheduled to play No. 1 seed Colts Neck (21-1) on June 9 in Colts Neck.

Dawson said his squad has “nothing to lose” against Colts Neck.

“They are fearless right now,” Dawson said of the Redbirds. “They have gotten farther than anticipated. This is a plethora of experience they are gaining for next year.”

“I’m happy for the girls. I’m proud of what we have accomplished and getting them to believe what they can do. We have done more than we anticipated,” he said.

Against Ocean Township, the Redbirds grabbed hold of the contest with a three-run second inning. Junior Kaylee Mushinski singled and advanced to third on two wild pitches.

Moments later, Mushinski stole home after Olivia Sacco walked and then raced to second base, catching Ocean Township off-guard and allowing Mushinski to score for a 1-0 lead.

Sacco eventually scored on a wild pitch to give the Redbirds a 2-0 lead.

“We have been doing that all year to find ways to manufacture runs,” Dawson said of the team’s aggressive base-running. “We don’t have a lot of big boppers. We have to find ways to manufacture runs to win.”

Junior Emily Lohkamp extended Allentown’s lead to 3-0 with a sacrifice fly.

In the bottom of the third, Mushinski came to the plate with the bases loaded. Using her “new bat,” Mushinski singled to center to score two runs and put the Redbirds up 5-0.

“This my first time using the new bat and hearing those pops made me feel great,” she said. “I’m so happy. We have worked so hard to make it this far and we got the moment.”

Mushinski’s two hits against Ocean Township lifted her total to 34 hits to lead the team. She and Emily Zuppa have each driven in 20 runs.

In the bottom of the fourth, freshman Sofia Belardino scored on a wild pitch to lift the Redbirds to a 6-0 lead.

Allentown starter Skyler LaFisca got settled in the circle and kept the Spartans off the board through five innings. The junior righthander kept the hitters off-balance with off-speed pitches and was able to get an out when she needed to escape potential trouble.

LaFisca recorded her sixth strikeout to get out of a jam in the fifth inning when Ocean Township had runners on second and third. LaFisca got cleanup hitter Alexandra Ankiewicz to swing over the top of a change-up to end the inning.

“The change-up was my go-to pitch all day. I’m really proud of the team. We have come so far this season and we deserve this,” she said.

LaFisca finished the game with seven strikeouts.

In the sixth, the Spartans rallied for two runs with two out to draw within 6-2.

In the seventh, an Allentown error preceded a run-scoring double by Ankiewicz to cut the Redbirds’ lead to 6-3.

LaFisca struck out the next hitter, but then issued a walk to set up the Spartans with runners on first and second with one out.

Junior Carley Noble came on in relief and gave up a single to the first batter she faced to load the bases.

Later, Noble said she kept telling herself “It’s going to be OK” and “You got this.”

Her positive thoughts turned out to be the case as Noble struck out Ocean Township’s next batter and got the Spartans’ final hitter to ground out to second to end the game and send Allentown to the semifinals of the state sectional tournament.

“It was a big relief,” Noble said after recording the final out. “I’m really excited we are heading to the semifinals. This team has a lot of talent and I’m glad we are getting to show it.”

Exit mobile version