BY KADEN BUCHALTER
The softball team defeated South Plainfield 6-2 in the GMC tournament semi-finals on May 21 to earn a spot in the finals against St. Thomas Aquinas. With a current record of 16-8, the Knights have established themselves as one of the strongest teams in the program’s history.
Kacey Loughlin provided a dominant pitching performance with 15 strikeouts and just three hits and one walk against a talented South Plainfield team in the semis. Loughlin expressed what led to her success during the game: “I was focusing on working hard every batter because I was really determined on making it to the GMC finals.”
Along with Loughlin’s impressive pitching, the bats remained hot up and down the line up. Sophomore Jayden Jones, who went two for two with two runs scored conveyed, “I had an amazing game throughout. Every hit contributed and moved runners over to score.”
Zoe Milonopoulos, who went four for four in the game and knocked in three runs, attributes their success to the team’s attitude and leadership. She stated, “The coaching was great! The energy from both the dugout and on the field pumped up me, and everyone else.”
Zoe leads the team in hits, RBIs, runs, and home runs, but emphasizes the teamwork involved in the win. “I might have gotten on, but I couldn’t have scored without the girls behind me to get me in. Our line-up was working top to bottom. Everyone pulled through and did their job. We had an amazing game and it showed,” said Zoe.
The team’s win against South Plainfield allows them to move on to the finals this Saturday against St. Thomas Aquinas. The Knights lost to St. Thomas Aquinas twice this season, but the most recent match-up was a battle where the Knights out-hit the Trojans eleven to eight but still lost 5-2.
However, the team hopes the current hot streak will carry over into the finals. The May 11 GMC Round 1 game against rival East Brunswick started a streak of three straight shut-outs for Loughlin. Zoe led the Knights by going three for four with a home run. Senior Alyssa Santiago went two for two with 2 runs scored and freshman Gianna Velez added her fourth home run of the season to help power the team to a 6-0 win.
The team continued their success in the GMC semi-finals against Monroe. Dimitra Milonopoulos noted that the defense came through to help Loughlin earn her second straight shut-out. “There were two great plays in that game. One was a fantastic catch in center field made by Savannah Martinez. The hit was over her right shoulder. She ran all the way back to make the catch at the fence.” Dimitra added, “There was another play made by the shortstop, Zoe Milonopoulos, where she made a spinning throw right over second base to get the out. Both phenomenal plays.”
Before falling 6-3 to North Burlington in the second round of the state tournament, the Knights dominated Howell 10-0 in round one on May 17. Freshman Amanda Jupinka hit her first career home run and went two for two with two runs scored and two RBIs. “Everyone played their part and made a great overall effort during our first state game,” said Jupinka.
After beating South Plainfield in the second round, in a final tune-up game before the GMC finals, the team beat Voorhees 4-2 on Tuesday. Loughlin stepped back into the spotlight as she notched her 200th strikeout of the season, but the hot streak she and her team are riding has her eyes set on a championship. Loughlin said, “It feels great because that gives me motivation that we can beat anyone in the finals!”
The Knights will battle St. Thomas Aquinas for the Greater Middlesex County Championship at 10 am tomorrow morning.
Posted on 5/27/22
Photos by Kaden Buchalter