BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer Mater Dei High School softball coach Jeanne Dickinson has been noting her team’s defensive strengths throughout the campaign – and those were quite apparent during the Seraphs’ 11-2 victory over Montclair Kimberley Academy in the NJSIAA Non- Public B title game. JEFF GRANIT staff Mater Dei High School shortstop Lauren Florio makes a catch against Montclair Kimberley Academy in her team’s 11-2 victory in the NJSIAA Non-Public B championship. The triumph was Mater Dei’s first and it came against a team that had won four successive Group titles and appeared a heavy favorite entering the game. Dickinson’s club has been stellar in the field throughout the campaign, boasting a .975 fielding percentage. The D, however, has been a bit overshadowed thanks to the outstanding pitching of Sara Cline, who was brilliant in shutting down St. Joseph’s of Hammonton in the Non-Public B South championship on June 2 to propel her team into the Non- Public B final. Cline permitted more base runners than usual in the championship game, but the Seraphs defense made the plays behind her and Montclair Kimberley ended up leaving 12 runners on base. “The girls made the plays, just like they have been doing all season long,” said Dickinson, who embraced Mater Dei’s underdog status to fire up her team. “That’s what I’ve come to expect.” Ironically, the best play came following a Mater Dei error. With the bases loaded with one out in the top of the fifth inning, Cline fielded a roller and tossed to catcher Erin Carroll for a force at the plate. Carroll, looking to complete a double play, threw the ball to first. The throw, however, went into right field, where hustling Lauren McKeown tracked it down and came up throwing. McKeown’s throw back to Carroll nailed a Cougars runner trying to score from second base to end the inning. Mater Dei, meanwhile, was stymied for the first three innings. However, the second time through the lineup the Seraphs broke through against Molly Herforth, Montclair Kimberley’s top pitcher. Dickinson’s team scored four times in the fourth inning to build a 5-1 lead. Cline, who drove in five runs on the day and has 22 RBIs on the year, doubled in a pair of runs, and Carroll followed with a single that brought home two more runs. Center fielder Danielle Murphy pounded out three doubles and scored three times. The victory followed Mater Dei’s exciting 1-0 win over St. Joseph’s of Hammonton in the Non-Public B South final last Tuesday. Cline was masterful, tossing 9 2/3 innings of hitless ball, while striking out 10. McKeown scored the winning run on a close play at the plate following Elyse Parker’s dribbler back to the pitcher. McKeown started the inning on second base as a result of the international tiebreaker rule. Cline faced the same situation in the bottom of the tenth. The runner tried to advance to third on a grounder back to Cline, who threw to first for the out. First baseman Elyse Parker threw across the diamond to Tess Gagliano at third to get the runner. “This is a strong all-around team,” Dickinson said. “We have good pitching, good fielding and good hitting. That’s a tough combination to beat. Everyone has been contributing. They deserve the success they’ve had.
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