Making the tag at third for Shore Regional is Kayla O'Scanlon (25) on Gianna Zolofra (4) of Long Branch.
By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
On Friday afternoon, Anne Kopec, junior at Shore Regional, went 3-for-4 with two doubles, four runs leading the Blue Devils to a 22-8 victory over Long Branch.
The Blue Devils of Shore Regional hosted the lady Green Wave of Long Branch in a nondivisional Shore Conference match-up. Both teams play in tough divisions, with Long Branch in the A North and Shore in the A Central.
Long Branch scored half of their total runs in the top of the first inning. During the pre-game warm-up, the Green Wave looked a little shaky. However, all that changed once the first pitch was thrown. “Sometimes we have a not so good warm-up and then play really well, and sometimes it’s the opposite,” said Sean O’Neill (no relation to author) head coach of the Wave. He has been working hard on developing the fundamentals of the game. “I want them to be aggressive on the bases, and during that first inning they did exactly what I was hoping for.”
When the Blue Devils had their turn at bat, they made the most of that first inning scoring 11 runs. When the Wave players returned to the dugout for the top of the second inning, O’Neill told his outfield that they were playing too deep. “I would rather have that one ball go over your head than have a majority drop in front of you and having you run to get it,” said O’Neill.
Long Branch added an additional run in the top of the second. When the bottom of the second inning was over, Gianna Zolofra of Long Branch ran in saying we took them 1-2-3, and the entire Wave squad was pumped.
Top of the third, Shore held Long Branch scoreless. In the bottom of the third the Blue Devils added 9 additional runs to their total.
In the fourth inning Long Branch didn’t quit and was able to plate two additional runs and were now down 20-7. In the bottom of that inning the Devils added two more runs and were up 22-7. In accordance with the rules if one team has a 15-point advantage over an opponent after four innings and both coaches agree, the game is stopped. O’Neill asked Dave Porta, head coach of the Blue Devils if they could go one more inning.
After five innings if a team has at least a 10-point advantage over an opponent the game is stopped and becomes official skipping the last two innings. If Long Branch wanted to get into the final two innings, they would need to score at least five runs in the top of the fifth inning. “Our girls don’t quit and wanted to play and they showed a competitive spirit,” said O’Neill. Long Branch did add one run, but the game was called official with Shore taking the 22-8 victory.
“This season so far we are 6-8 and have been led offensively by Brooke Boker, Angela Christopher, Shelby MacRae, Anne Kopec, Riley Lawrence and Alex Muscillo,” said Porta. Muscillo took the win for the Devils and was 4-4 at the plate with two doubles, three runs and three runs batted in. “We were missing Boker and Christopher today, both out with injuries.”
Booker is batting .622 and is 23 for 37 and according to Porta is having a monster season. “She has scored 16 runs, has 29 runs batted in, eight doubles, one triple and one homerun,” Porta said.
Also playing a big role in the Devils win was MacRae who went 3-for4 with two doubles, four runs and five runs batted in. Lily Dicianni, a freshman right fielder had two hits and two runs.
“Sophomore Riley Lawrence is our shortstop and leadoff hitter. She might be the best player I have ever coached and is truly something special,” said Porta. He added that she is also an amazing golfer. “She is truly a program-changing kid. Not just because of her athletic ability, but her overall demeanor, enthusiasm, positivity and personality radiates so brightly that is it contagious to the entire team.”
Riley was All-Division last year as a freshman in both softball and golf. Oh, did we mention that golf and softball are played in the same season! “I have coached Jamie Mazzacco in wrestling, who might be one of the best overall athletes in the entire Shore Conference. I like to joke with him that as good as he is, he could never be as good in two sports at the same time, like Riley is with softball and golf,” said Porta.
Last year Riley went 29 for 52 in just 19-games. This year she is batting 22-for-48 and has 51 career hits, just 14 games into her sophomore year. She also leads the Devils with 23 runs. Her third competitive sport at Shore is cross-country, and was part of the Central Jersey Group 1 Sectional Championship team from Shore.
MacRae is a returning All-Division player and holds down first base for Shore. Muscillo and Julia Iannuzzelli are the senior captains and have helped the Devils on the mound and playing all over the field this year. Anne Kopec, junior catcher, has had her bat come alive this year batting .500 going 14-for-28.
Currently Shore is sitting in seventh position out of the eight teams in the A Central division.
On the mound for the Green Wave was Grace Mehlhorn-Marshall, who has the ability to toss some heat. Currently they are in last place in the A North division.