Tori Szrom always delivered in whichever role her teammates on the state Group IV champion Egg Harbor Township High School softball team needed her this season — in the pitcher’s circle, at the plate or as a senior leader.
That’s why she’s the 2017 Press Player of the Year.
“It’s an honor,” Szrom said. “Going into this year, I just wanted to win the state championship. I wasn’t thinking about my own stats, but it’s nice to be recognized for the work that I put in.”(tncms-asset)3c4cf060-5470-11e7-95d1-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
Szrom, a 17-year-old from Egg Harbor Township, certainly saw her diligence pay off. She pitched to a 16-1 record with 87 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.86 in 1232/3 innings. Szrom hit .385 with 28 RBIs.
But, most importantly to her and the rest of the Eagles, the goal of a state title was realized with a win over North Hunterdon. Although EHT ended the season with its lone loss in the Tournament of Champions, the main objective was achieved.
The Eagles (23-1) finished the season ranked No. 1 in The Press Elite 11.
“Tori has been a huge part of our program since she came in her freshman year,” said fifth-year EHT coach Mary Dunlap. “Hitting has always been her constant and, from my understanding, her love.
“She really takes pride and works hard at being a hitter. She studies the game a lot. That said, I don’t give her any less credit as a pitcher. She’s just a great player overall. Tori’s definitely going to be missed.”
The 5-foot-9 Szrom will continue playing softball at NCAA Division II Florida Institute of Technology in the fall, most likely at first or third base.(tncms-asset)87219300-48b5-11e7-aeeb-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
Looking back on the season, Szrom valued the intensity of every game.
“Every out mattered, every pitch mattered. ... You’re just trying to get to 21 outs (in a seven-inning game),” she said. “This year, it was really my chance to lead the team and be who I wanted to be.”
And part of that was assuming a big leadership role.
“Going into this year, I just took a step back and tried to think about what would make this team better,” Szrom said. “We (the Eagles players) have known each other for so long, and what worked for us at younger levels was unconditional support and knowing that your teammates are going to be there for you.”
Team of the year
Szrom, Dunlap and the rest of the Egg Harbor Township team enjoyed quite the ride over the past two seasons, posting a 47-2 record.
“It’s still really hard to put into words what we’ve accomplished,” Dunlap said. “Many times I sit my team down and remind them that it’s about leaving the program better than you found it. We now have a state-championship banner in the gym.
“I look up there and I smile. I’m proud. It’s just really hard to wrap my brain around it.”
EHT is The Press Team of the Year.
Senior outfielder Emily Biddle (MacNeil) knew an excellent mix of the players contributed to the team’s success.
“We had a lot of great chemistry and were always picking each other up all season,” she said. “We all grew up together.”
Coach of the Year
Keith Lowe of Pinelands Regional is The Press Coach of the Year.
The Wildcats (20-9, No. 5 in The Press Elite 11) won the South Jersey Group II title and the Ocean County Tournament. Lowe took in both accomplishments with pride.
“I was a historical year for us,” the 11th-year coach said. “I cant say enough about my players and how hard they worked. This is probably not the most talented team I’ve had, but by far it’s the toughest mentally.
“The grind and the grit of this team really showed its true colors in big games.”