first_img As the week began, the Middletown South High School softball team remained in pursuit of two championships. The Eagles were still alive in the NJSIAA Group III state tournament and were scheduled to play Delsea on June 2 at New Egypt High School, Plumsted. A win over Delsea would send the Eagles into the Group III championship game. The Eagles were also bidding to win the Shore Conference Tournament championship. Middletown South was scheduled to play Red Bank Catholic High School for the tournament crown on June 3 at Wall High School. Both of those games were played after press time for this issue of the Independent. Prior to the conference tournament championship game, the Eagles and the Caseys had played twice in 2009. Middletown South won a regular season game at home and RBC defeated the Eagles in the championship of the Monmouth County Tournament. The Eagles (25-3) earned a bye in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament and then defeated Central Regional in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals played May 31, the Eagles defeated Toms River East, 6-1. Liza Kuhn had another strong game on the mound for the Eagles, getting out of a firstinning jam with just one run scoring. Coach Tom Erbig’s team got on the board in the fourth inning after catcher Amanda Galanti singled and centerfielder Jackie Bates connected for a tworun homer. Amanda Yamaguchi increased the lead to 3-1 with an RBI single later in the inning. Middletown South cushioned its lead in the fifth when Sam Penk blasted a solo homer and Bates connected for a second two-run shot. “The girls are truly playing as a team,” Erbig said before this week’s action began. “When someone makes an error, someone else picks them up. And Liza (Kuhn) has been a great pitcher for us. She perseveres and gets the job done. Her ability to pitch her way out of trouble has been invaluable to our team.” On May 30, Middletown South won its second straight NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III crown with a 1-0 win over Wall. The teams battled through eight scoreless innings, with Kuhn and Wall’s Ani Sasala dueling on the mound. The Eagles finally broke through in the bottom of the ninth when sophomore Julia Kuhn drew a walk to lead off the inning. Bates followed with a single and K.D. Rohlander stepped to the plate. The senior first baseman attempted to sacrifice the runners over, but missed. However, the ball got past the Crimson Knights’ catcher and the runners moved up to second and third. With two strikes on her, Rohlander dribbled a slow grounder to short and Julia Kuhn beat the thrown home to give Middletown South the state sectional title. “Before that pitch I told Julia not to go unless the ball got through the infield or was hit slowly to the right side,” Erbig said. “It was a situation where instinct took over. She took off as soon as the ball was hit. It was a great play.” It also marked the second straight year that Julia Kuhn scored the winning run in the Central Jersey Group III championship game. She also scored the lone run in the Eagles’ 1-0 triumph over Kingsway in 2008. Against Wall in the state sectional final, the Eagles’ defense was solid, highlighted by an unusual double play in the second inning. With a runner on second and no one out, third baseman Julia Kuhn snared a bunt attempt in the air to retire the batter and threw to Bates, who snuck in behind the runner at second from her position in centerfield and completed the double play. BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer last_img read more