Lots of Questions to Be Answered as Spring Sports Season Arrives
During the spring sports season, the action heats up really fast. And for most of the local high school varsity squads, that time has come.
Can the Southern Regional boys volleyball team repeat as state champs? Will Southern’s guy golfers become state sectional-title contenders? How good will the Pinelands and Barnegat baseball teams be this spring? Is this the year the Pinelands softball team wins a state sectional championship? Does Southern’s boys lacrosse team have another Shore Conference title on its radar? And can the Southern girls track and field team extend its undefeated streak against Shore Conference Class A South rivals to 11 seasons?
All these questions and more will get answered within a wild nine-week spurt, and it all will begin to unfold Saturday, April 1, when the new season gets underway, weather permitting.
For Pinelands, Nicole Burke, Madison Dancisin, Jessie Rising, Brianna Suralik and the rest of the softball crew get their season started at 10 a.m. on the road at Central Regional, as do Noah Dean, Joey Ventresca and the Wildcats’ baseball squad. Meanwhile, the girls lacrosse team kicks off the home schedule with a 10 a.m. contest against Monmouth Regional.
While the boys golf team, led by senior Chris McGrotty, starts off with the Wall Invitational early in the day on Monday, April 3, the Tim Kelleher-led boys tennis team will be on its home court at 3:45 p.m. to take on Shore Conference Class B South foe Lacey in what should be a classic opener, while the girls lacrosse team heads to Donovan Catholic. On Tuesday, April 4, the Pinelands baseball, softball and golf teams get their home schedules moving at 3:45 p.m., while the boys and girls track and field teams will be at Barnegat High School for a divisional meet to include Donovan Catholic at 4 p.m.
As for the Bengals, seniors Aaron McLaughlin and Justin Diefenbach will lead the baseball team into its season opener (11 a.m.) on the road against Long Branch, while seniors Roxy Urso, Emma Lloyd and Megan Magoon will help the softball squad kick off its spring campaign on the road against the Green Wave. Meanwhile, the boys volleyball squad will open its season at the Moorestown Invitational, starting at 8 a.m.
Both the boys volleyball and tennis teams will start off their home schedules at 3:45 p.m. on Monday, April 3, and the next day the baseball and softball teams will meet up with Jackson Liberty in their home openers at 3:45 p.m., while the tennis and boys golf teams will be on the road to face Southern and Lacey, respectively.
Southern has the largest of the opening-day schedule set for Saturday, as the girls track team – featuring seniors Sabrina Woodlee, Danielle Sinko, Justine Hosszu and far too many stud athletes to name right now – starts off with the Rebel Relays at 9 a.m., while the baseball squad, with Nick Simone, Zach Fillmore, Nolan Watson and Pat Barrett leading the way, will be on the road at Donovan Catholic for a 10 a.m. contest.
Also on the Rams’ slate for Saturday will be the Brennan Davis-led boys volleyball team, competing in the Hillsborough Invitational at 10 a.m., as well as the boys lacrosse team and coach Lori Johnson’s girls lacrosse squad, playing in a big home contest against Toms River South, also at 10 a.m.
On Monday at Southern, the boys tennis, girls golf and boys volleyball teams all get their home schedules going, with matches against Jackson Memorial, Toms River South and Lacey, respectively, while the boys golf team – led by the terrific foursome of Matt Rizzo, Nick Campanelli, Caleb Rossi and Chris D’Alessandro – and boys and girls lacrosse squads go on the road.
On Tuesday, April 4, several Southern teams will be playing home openers, including the baseball and boys golf crew, while the boys lacrosse team, which should be led by the offensive clout of Kyle Mulrane and Will Johnson, and the softball squad, led by seniors Sophia Mastandrea, Holly Essinger and Hanna Van Waalwijk, will have home contests.
— David Biggy