Season comes to a disappointing end for Lancers

By doug mckenzie
Staff Writer

By doug mckenzie
Staff Writer

FARRAH MAFFAI St. John Vianney’s Amanda D’Allessio watches in disbelief as her top-ranked team loses a Lady Buc Tournament final to Red Bank Catholic at Red Bank Regional on Friday, 6-0.FARRAH MAFFAI St. John Vianney’s Amanda D’Allessio watches in disbelief as her top-ranked team loses a Lady Buc Tournament final to Red Bank Catholic at Red Bank Regional on Friday, 6-0.

TOMS RIVER — You can’t take anything for granted in high school athletics.

The St. John Vianney girls’ softball team learned that the hard way over the past two weeks, as their dream of defending their tournament championships came to an abrupt end with a pair of disappointing losses.

After cruising through the regular season as the top team in the Shore Conference, the Lady Lancers, of Holmdel, entered the postseason hoping for a repeat of last year’s success, when they won both the Lady Buc Tournament (the equivalent of the Monmouth County Tournament) and the Parochial A title.

However, over the course of five days, the Lancers saw both of those titles slip through their hands with a pair of disappointing losses in the finals.

On Friday, the Lancers needed to win two games to earn another Lady Buc title. First, they had to beat a solid Middletown South squad in the semifinal round in order to get a shot at rival Red Bank Catholic in the final.

SJV seemed poised to repeat following an impressive 9-1 win over the Eagles in the first game. In that game, Tricia Reingle and Kacie Gailbreath combined to toss a two-hitter, while Jen Trace and Tina Phillburn drove in two runs each.

Vianney jumped on top of the Eagles early, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first, before adding another run in the second and four more in the bottom of the fourth. The win improved the Lady Lancers to 26-2 on the season, and had them firing on all cylinders heading into the tournament final against RBC. Or so they thought.

In that game, SJV ran into a red-hot RBC team that was looking to upset the Lancers as a means of proving that they, too, were among the state’s elite teams. RBC entered the game with an 18-6 record, but lacked the big win it desired to prove its mettle.

The Caseys played a flawless game in the final and walked away with the Lady Buc trophy, defeating Vianney convincingly, 6-0.

In the second inning, the bases were loaded due to some uncharacteristically wild SJV pitching. Reingle, who has been among the state’s most dominant pitchers this spring, walked RBC’s Jenna Roper with the bases loaded to give the Caseys the game’s first run.

A Kate Marvel base hit sent in run No. 2, followed by a Kalynn Davies double that cleared the bases and erupted the crowd.

"Before we knew it, I looked up and we were winning 6-0," RBC coach Randy Scinto said. "We usually don’t score nearly that many runs, and we were biting and scratching for the victory in the last few innings. This time we were able to get ahead and get the job done."

With the disappointing loss to RBC behind them, the Lady Lancers entered Tuesday’s Parochial A final seeking not only their third straight title, but redemption.

Unfortunately, they got neither, falling to Immaculate Heart Academy, 3-0, in an 11-inning thriller. Vianney scratched and clawed throughout the game, but were unable to get the big hit that they have been known for over the last three years. SJV stranded nine runners in the game, while Reingle was able to get out of trouble on numerous occasions to keep her team in the game.

IHA started the winning rally when Jess Valentini’s fly ball fell for a two-base error, and Jess Zannotti sacrificed her to third. Allison Gletow then grounded the ball to the right side, scoring Valentini, and reached first when the ball was bobbled. Pinch-hitter Dawn Jan then sacrificed her to second, and following an intentional walk, Megan Piccinic’s infield hit loaded the bases. Danielle Just then broke the game open with a two-run single. The loss ended SJV’s season at 26-4, and provided the Lancers with a disappointing conclusion to what had been another brilliant season.