Freehold Township caps stellar softball campaign with first county crown

Freehold Township High School senior softball players (from left to right) Lila Williams, Dana Williams and Nikki Lusnia celebrate helping the team win the Monmouth County Tournament championship on June 7 in Wall. The Patriots won their first ever MCT championship with a 14-5 victory over Middletown South.

An historic season for the Freehold Township High School softball team ended with more history being made on June 7 when the Patriots met Middletown South High School in the Monmouth County Tournament Red Division championship game at Wall High School, Wall Township.

The 2022 Patriots, who already had won the program’s first Central Jersey Group IV state sectional tournament title, won the school’s first county softball championship with a 14-5 victory over the Eagles.

The Monmouth County Tournament has two brackets and crowns two champions. The top eight teams based on record and past performance compete for the Red Division title, while the remaining eight teams compete for the Blue Division title.

“This is one of the best seasons Freehold Township softball has ever had,” senior pitcher Nikki Lusnia said. “To win two titles in one year is amazing.”

Five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and five more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning led the Patriots to their victory over Middletown South.

In the top of the fifth, Carlee Iannone homered for the Eagles to tie the score, 4-4. Iannone hit two solo home runs in the game.

In the bottom of the fifth, senior Lila Williams led off with a single and stole second base. Two batters later junior Jiana Maniscalco singled up the middle and Williams scored to give the Patriots a 5-4 lead.

“I knew I had to lock in for my teammates and give us that go-ahead run,” Maniscalco said. “To be able to come through for them felt amazing.”

Junior Victoria Simons and sophomore Sienna Smith delivered back-to-back RBI doubles as Freehold Township extended its lead to 7-4.

Senior Dana Williams and Lusnia each singled and drove in a run as the Patriots finished their five-run outburst and took a 9-4 lead into the sixth inning.

Dana Williams had two hits and two runs scored for the Patriots, giving her 34 hits and 34 runs scored in 2022.

The Eagles scored a run on a wild pitch in the top of the sixth inning to close the gap to 9-5, but the Patriots responded with five more runs in the bottom of the inning to secure the Red Division title.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Patriots scored three runs on errors to take a 12-5 lead, before junior Olivia Smith and Lusnia each delivered an RBI single to make the final score 14-5.

Lusina and sophomore Ashley Viesta each finished the game with two RBIs. Viesta ended the 2022 season with 28 RBIs and 34 hits.

Olivia Smith was 3-3 at the plate with two walks, an RBI and three runs scored. She finished an outstanding junior campaign with 39 hits, 36 runs scored and 25 RBIs.

“I’m happy I was able to help my team,” Smith said. “It feels great. We truly had a great season. We have a lot of really talented girls and I’m happy we were able to finish it out with a championship win.”

Lila Williams was 2-5 at the plate with an RBI and a run scored. She finished the season with a team-high 42 hits and 39 RBIs. The senior led the Patriots with eight home runs.

In the pitching circle, Lusnia struck out six hitters and finished the season with 190 strikeouts. The senior ends her career with 386 strikeouts for the Patriots.

As tears of joy ran down her cheeks, Lusnia said it was a “dream come true” to finish her senior season by helping the Patriots win two tournament championships.

“It feels amazing,” she said. “I have been dreaming of this since I was in rec ball.”

Sophomore Alexa Barbera put her stamp on the championship game by hitting her first career home run in the victory over the Eagles.

Freehold Township ends its 2022 campaign with a 21-6 record for Coach Johnny Sciarappa. The 21 victories top the 19 wins the Patriots compiled in 2021.

The 2022 Patriots saw their childhood dreams of accomplishing greatness together on the diamond come true this spring. Their achievements are something they will always remember.

“We have all been playing softball together since we were 6 years old and to do this together is such a great feeling,” Dana Williams said. “This is by far my favorite season playing softball with these girls.”