TOMS RIVER – The Sacred Heart High School softball team couldn’t console itself with cries of “Wait till next year” Sunday afternoon.
All the Lions could do was mourn a future that will never be.
Immaculate Conception beat the Lions 6-4 to win the state Non-Public B title at Toms River East.
Sacred Heart won a school record 31 games and features numerous talented underclassmen. In any other season, the Lions would be considered a team of the future. But the Vineland school, which opened in 1927, is closing this month because of low enrollment. Sunday was the final sporting event in Sacred Heart history.
The Lions were trying to win their second straight state title Sunday. They beat Immaculate Conception 3-1 in last year’s state final.
Immaculate Conception (30-2) played aggressively form the start in the rematch. The Bergen County belted six hits and scored four runs in the first two innings.
Sacred Heart didn’t panic. The Lions grinded their way back into the game.
Dwyer and Kyrsten Makos hit RBI singles in the bottom of the second to cut Immaculate Conception’s lead to 4-2.
Sacred Heart tied the game in the bottom of the third on Kaila Smith’s RBI double and Lauren Dwyer’s RBI single.
But Immaculate Conception regained the lead with some timely hitting. The Blue Wolves scored runs in the top of the fourth and fifth innings on two-out RBI singles.
Meanwhile, Sacred Heart managed just one hit in the final four innings.