Blevins paces Falcon softball victory

By: Carolyn M. Hartko
   The Monroe Township High School varsity softball team opened the week on a positive note with a 6-2 victory over Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division rival Cardinal McCarrick. The win boosts the Lady Falcons’ record to 2-3.
   "We played very well defensively," Falcon head coach Jean Elias said. "And we finally got the bats going a little bit, although we didn’t hit as well as I thought we could have."
   Senior first baseman Vicki Blevins led the offense, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI. Pitcher Kim Mackiewicz registered six strikeouts to preserve the win. While not the toughest team the Falcons face in their division, McCarrick made Monroe pay attention. Elias described this opponent as a "middle of the pack" kind of team.
   "Their pitcher put the ball over the plate, and they hit the ball pretty well," the coach said. "But we made some nice plays defensively."
   The Falcons had one big disappointment last week when they lost last Thursday’s game at Middlesex, 2-0. Monroe and the Lady Blue Jays were expected to be the top contenders in the Blue this year.
   Of course, the Falcons have one more shot at Middlesex in the second half of the schedule, and that game will be played at home. Blue Jay pitcher Sara Neely did a pretty effective job of shutting down Monroe’s offense. She threw a one-hitter with seven strikeouts and no walks. The Falcons never got the ball out of the infield.
   In spite of the limited offense, Elias felt that her squad hung with Blue Jays on defense.
   "We had two errors in the Middlesex game, but we made a lot of nice defensive plays, too," Elias said. "(For example) in the first inning, they had a runner on first base with two outs. And the next batter hit a shot in the gap in right center field. Our right fielder (Kim Gobac) chased it down, hit the relay and we threw the girl out at home. It was a nice play."
   Gobac hit Blevins, her cut-off at first, and Blevins fired the ball to catcher Jenn Rubin, who made the out.
   "Overall, we played very well," Elias said. "I think Jackie Varacallo had a lot of balls over at third base. She made some good plays."
   Elias has been pleased with her pitching staff so far this spring. Freshman Brittany Salvatore (1-1) pitched the first two games of the season, and Mackiewicz (1-2) has gotten the last three starts.
   With the defense looking solid, its time to work on the offense. The Falcons were limited to the one hit against Middlesex, and they didn’t register any at East Brunswick in last Saturday’s 7-0 loss. Blevins is connecting, but she’s still performing below last year’s stats.
   "We’ve been trying to spend some more time at practice on the offense," Elias said. "We’re trying to mix it up, hitting off the pitching machine and off of live pitching at practice. Hopefully, that’ll help us out.
   "A couple of the girls are working on hitting from the left side, doing some slapping and some bunting from the left side to try to utilize their speed," the coach added. "So, it’s going to take us a little time. We’ll keep working on that."
   With all the games on the schedule, there isn’t that much time left over for practice. The Falcons were due to host Spotswood on Wednesday (after press time) and South River on Friday