Barnegat Leader

Barnegat Softball Rebuilding Around Young Players

Spring Sports Preview
Apr 20, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Barnegat junior Molly McEneaney is one of the more experienced players in the Bengals’ lineup this spring.

Last June, the Barnegat softball team graduated six of its starting nine players, so heading into this spring head coach Michael Palmieri wasn’t expecting miracles.

“The class of 2017 was, with little argument, the strongest we’ve ever graduated,” Palmieri said as the preseason wrapped up. “Between all of the seniors, we lost 21 varsity letters, and that’s a tremendous loss.”

Unfortunately, in the Shore Conference Class B South division, there’s really no place to hide. It has one of the better teams in the state, Donovan Catholic, and four other quality squads reside at Pinelands, Jackson Liberty, Manchester and Lacey high schools – and it’s likely those four public schools won’t come close to challenging Donovan for the division title.

“Given our youth and lack of experience, I don’t see us running with the top teams this year,” Palmieri said. “I anticipate taking some lumps, but know that this year’s seasoning will pay dividends over the next three seasons.”

Some lumps already have been dealt. Pinelands and Donovan each scored in the double digits during their first meetings with Barnegat, as did A South’s Brick Township, and the Bengals were 2-7 after the first two weeks of the season. The two positives on the Bengals’ record were 17-0 and 10-0 wins over Long Branch and Lakewood, respectively.

“We’re a very young team,” Palmieri said. “Our battery, second baseman and third baseman are freshmen. Our team has only one starting senior, and her backup at first base is also a freshman. The roster features three sophomores who will see extensive time in the starting lineup. Our team captains – Molly McEneaney and Tori Leonard – are both juniors.”

During an 8-5 loss to Henry Hudson in the Strikeout Autism Challenge on April 14, the Bengals indeed featured much of their young talent. Behind senior first baseman Alyson Meany, the shortstop McEneaney, outfielder Leonard, junior outfielder Kiersten Breyta and sophomore outfielder Alaina DeSanti, four of the Bengals’ starters were freshmen: Adrianna Romano, the program’s new starting pitcher; catcher Ashley Sojak; third baseman Julianna Padilla; and infielder Destiny Fratianni. Freshman Morgan Giaccone was inserted as a pinch-hitter.

Against the Admirals, the Bengals mustered seven hits, including two each by Padilla, Romano and Meany. McEneaney had the other. In the circle, Romano struck out five and walked two.

The rest of the roster includes seniors Kasava Douglas and Amanda Perna; junior Alayna Galati; sophomores Mikayla Donaldson, Christina Golaszewski and Priscilla Pitiak; and freshmen Scarlett Roberts and Meagan Hynes.

Prior to the Bengals’ second win of the season on April 13, they lost a 2-1 decision to Toms River East in the first round of the Ocean County Tournament on April 12.

In a 5-1 loss to Manchester on April 11, Romano struck out eight and scattered six hits. Barnegat scored its only run in the sixth when Padilla walked to lead off, stole second and third, and then scored on an attempted pick-off at first base.

—  David Biggy

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