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Huskies battling together to find second-half momentum

During the past several years, the Matawan Regional High School softball team has gotten used to making deep runs in the Shore Conference Tournament and in the NJSIAA state sectional tournament.

Since the 2018 season, the Huskies have made a semifinal appearance twice in the Shore Conference Tournament and in the state sectional tournament.

Second-year coach Jess O’Brien believes the Huskies have the pieces to have similar success in 2022.

As of May 1, the Huskies were 7-7 and still trying to find their groove, but O’Brien has liked the way her players have continued to battle game in and game out.

“They come ready to play,” O’Brien said. “Every team has their good days and bad days. They have such great spirit and that keeps them going each time. Even through the tough losses, they have had a good attitude and have tried to work through it every time.”

Matawan has six players back from a 2021 squad that went 17-8, led by senior power hitters Chloe Montalvo (third base) and Kaysey Antos (catcher).

Montalvo, a Stony Brook University commit, was the team’s top hitter a year ago. She delivered 38 hits, three home runs and 19 RBIs.

Montalvo has continued her strong hitting in the middle of the lineup in 2022, with 29 hits (three home runs, eight doubles, two triples) and 21 RBIs.

In her final scholastic campaign, Montalvo is trying to reach 100 career hits. As of May 1, she had 87 career hits.

“I just go up there and swing hard,” Montalvo said. “That’s been my goal. I’m just going to keep fighting and try to end it on a good season.”

She has also brought speed to the team with six steals.

Antos led the Huskies with 23 RBIs in 2021. This spring she is hitting cleanup behind Montalvo and although Antos has gotten off to a slow start, O’Brien believes her senior catcher and the other hitters will get rolling during the second half of the season.

Overall, O’Brien has been pleased by her team’s offensive performance. The Huskies have scored 111 runs in 14 games (7.9 runs per game) and are 7-2 when they score five or more runs in a game.

“We have a solid lineup,” the coach said. “We just need all of our bats to work at once and we will be ready to go.”

Juniors Madison Haack (second base) and Olivia Dieterle (shortstop) have returned to give Matawan a lift at the top of the lineup and in the middle of the infield.

In the outfield, junior Katie Perry has taken on a leadership role in centerfield. She is flanked by freshman Madeline DeChristopher and junior Kaitlyn Kurzawa.

DeChristopher has given the lineup a spark with 15 hits, six RBIs and 12 runs scored. She leads the team with eight walks and has stolen six bases.

Freshman Isabelle Weimer has contributed 11 hits and 11 RBIs, and sophomore Ryann Healey has driven in 19 runs with 15 hits (three home runs). Healey can also be called on to pitch.

Junior Allie Porbansky was the team’s No. 2 pitcher in 2021 behind Alissa Eimont.

Porbansky has taken the role at the top of the rotation in 2022 and notched her 100th career strikeout in a game against Wall High School on April 28. The visiting Crimson Knights topped the Huskies, 5-2, that afternoon.

Speaking about her 100th career strikeout, Porbansky said, “It felt really good. I had such an adrenaline rush come through me.”

Porbansky believes she can give the Huskies a chance to win any time she is in the circle.

“I know I can have solid performances and that I have my teammates behind me to make plays. I have a solid defense,” she said.

Matawan will start May with games against Shore Conference B North Division foes Colts Neck, Saint John Vianney and Manasquan.

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