2013-04-17 / Sports

Marlboro softball team off to very solid start

BY TIM MORRIS
Staff Writer

One of the big surprises of the softball season has been Marlboro High School.

With four consecutive wins to start the campaign, head coach Nick Scalzo’s Mustangs have given a clear signal that this is not the old Marlboro.

The start does not, however, come as a surprise to Scalzo.

“[It’s] not a big surprise, because I see how hard our kids work in the offseason and at practice every day,” he said. “I always knew that they had it in them.

“I think our biggest difference so far is confidence,” he said. “The kids for the first time truly believe that they can not only compete with anyone, but they can win. In the past, we lacked in this area.”

Even in their losses this week — 6-5 to Middletown High School North and 1-0 to Middletown High School South — the Mustangs gave further indication that things have changed.

Scalzo called the loss at Middletown North “extremely tough,” as the Lions won it with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

On April 11, the Mustangs went out-forout and pitch-for-pitch with mighty Middletown South, surrendering just one run in what was another tough defeat. It was a pitchers’ dual, as the two teams combined for only seven hits. If anything, the loss proved that the Mustangs belonged.

At 4-2 and with noone else undefeated, the Mustangs are very much a factor in the Shore Conference A North Division.

Marlboro’s rise among the division leaders starts in the circle with pitcher Samantha Brinkskelle.

“[Brinkskelle] has been great,” the head coach said. “She always gives us a solid effort and puts us in a good position to win.”

She did that against Middletown South, giving up just five hits to the defending division champions.

Brinkskelle is one of the six returning starters who have been instrumental in the team’s change of attitude on the field.

“Our returners are doing exactly what seniors and juniors should be doing — leading by example in the box and on the field,” Scalzo said.

Samantha Seratelli, Jaymee Fried, Samantha George, Brooke Kaminski and Sophie Dolashewich are the returning starters, while Brianna Brienza saw playing time in 2012. Seratelli has been the team’s big runproducer with nine RBIs. Fried, Kaminski and Bonnie Picone share the lead in runs scored with six.

Picone, a freshman catcher, has made a big difference to the ball club. “[Picone] is our leadoff batter who brings a tremendous spark to our lineup,” Scalzo said.

Picone has taken charge defensively behind the plate and has limited opponents’ running game with her strong arm. “Overall, as a team, we have been solid hitting the ball with runners on and with two outs,” Scalzo said. “We are doing the little things to win games.

“We believe in defense, so we still have to cut down on errors if we want to continue to have success,” he said.

Six games may be a small sample for a team, but it’s been enough to convince Scalzo that Marlboro can keep playing at this high level all season.

Freehold Township High School (4-2 overall) is 3-1 in A North and tied with Middletown South at the top. The Patriots defeated Colts Neck High School, 8-1, on April 11 behind a three-hitter by Jordyn White that included 10 strikeouts. Rhianna Rucinski had a double and three RBIs.

The Patriots hosted Middletown South (4-1 overall) on April 15 in what was an early-season showdown for first place.

After that, the Patriots travel to Marlboro on April 17 for another very important A North game.

Colts Neck (1-3) shook things up in the division on April 9, when the Cougars stunned Middletown South, 2-0, behind Tessa Latrenta’s five-hitter. Taylor Terlizzi scored both runs for the Cougars on RBIs from Emily DeSimone and Dayna Kleinstein.

At 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the division, Howell High School is very much in the mix. This will be a big week for the Rebels, as Middletown North came to town on April 15 and April 17, Howell meets Middletown South for the first time at 4 p.m. Howell is at Marlboro thefollowingdayfora4p.m.game.

With a good week, the Rebels would be in the thick of the division race.

Pitcher Alyssa Ruiz has picked up all of Howell’s wins, while Kelly Hardiman, Annemarie Bartow and Jacquie Coulahan have been powering the offense.

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