DEPTFORD TOWNSHIP - The Hammonton High School softball team made some big plays in the field on Friday, but ran into a Gloucester County Institute of Technology team that made history.
GCIT's Erynn Sobieski pitched a one-hitter as the host Cheetahs beat Hammonton 4-0 in the South Jersey Group III championship game. The win gave top-seeded GCIT (20-5), which is also known as Gloucester Tech, its first South Jersey title in the 11 years of the program.
Gloucester County Institute of Technology advances to play the Central Jersey champion, either Wall or Nottingham, next week in a state Group III semifinal game.
Hammonton hit the ball fairly well but the Cheetahs also made some outstanding plays. The Blue Devils' only hit was a bloop single by second baseman Heather Visco in the fourth inning. Hammonton, seeded second, is 18-9.
"We just kind of hit the ball to people. I think our timing was a little off," Hammonton coach Stacy Jones said. "Our forte is always defense and hitting, but today we got 1 of 2.
The Hammonton team was playing despite the sadness due to the death of Hammonton senior Christopher Goodwin, who was killed in a car crash Sunday morning. Goodwin was a cross country and track and field standout.
The Hammonton softball players wore green bows, scarfs and face paint in honor of him. Green was Goodwin's favorite color, according to Jones.
"I was impressed with the way they played, because it's been an emotional time right now at Hammonton," Jones said. "Our girls all went to the wake (Thursday night)."
Gloucester Tech punched out nine hits, and got the winning run on four singles in the second inning. The Cheetahs loaded the bases, and second baseman Brandi Chester lined a single to left to make it 1-0.
The Cheetahs loaded the bases again the fifth inning, and left fielder Jean Romer hit a three-run triple to the gap in left center.
"It feels awesome to win the South Jersey title," said Gloucester Tech coach John Holland as he held the championship trophy. "We've been playing as a team all year, and we showed that today. Erynn throws hard but hits her spots, and moves the ball around and changes speeds. She has an outstanding defense behind her."
Hammonton might have gotten something going following Visco's single, but Gloucester shortstop Taylor Favinger made a leaping catch on Morgan DiVello, and then doubled up Visco at first. Rae Genovese led off the Blue Devils' seventh inning with a liner toward the left-field line, but Gloucester Tech's Michele Civile made a running catch.
The Blue Devils made several outstanding plays in the field. In the third inning and with two runners on, DiVello dove to her right to knock down a liner by GCIT's Taylor Thomas, and threw to third for a force out. Genovese made a leaping catch in left field in the fourth. Hammonton third baseman Brigette Alessandrini made a running catch over her shoulder on a pop foul in the fifth.
"We got our bats on the ball, but it was definitely frustrating to hit the ball and have it not go where we want it to," Alessandrini, an 18-year-old senior from Hammonton, said.
Contact Guy Gargan:
Hammonton 000 000 0-0 1 1
GCIT 010 030 x-4 9 0
2B-Chisholm G. 3B-Romer G.
WP-Sobieski 5k (17-5). LP-Hellyer 0k (13-5).
Records-GCIT 20-5; H 18-9.