By John Sorce
BRICK – Coming off its only individual A South title, the Brick Township softball team finds itself in a tight battle in its quest for a repeat with some tight competition this season, with five teams within a game of .500 in divisional play.
“From top to bottom, you cannot take a day off in A South this year,” said Brick Township head coach Tim Puglisi, who is in his seventh year running the program. “Every team in this division is very well balanced. Right now, a lot of teams seem to be beating up on each other and for us, a lot of our games have been back and forth. Our team has a tendency to try to battle back and we’ve won quite a few games coming from behind and we’ve let a few slip away at the end.
“Once in a while you will have those teams when you can relax and in years past, we were that team where people were counting on getting wins. There is not a team this year in A South you can overlook. Everyone is battling.” The Green Dragons are 4-4 overall and 3-4 in A South as of Apr. 20. The team started 3-0, recording victories over Toms River East (9-8 in walk-off fashion), Jackson Memorial (9-6) and Barnegat (10-1), before dropping four of their next five games.
The core group of this team consists of Corinne Connelly, a four-year varsity starter as a catcher, who leads the team with a batting average of over .550 and is one of two seniors who has over 100 career hits. The other being another four-year varsity starter in third baseman Alexa Halley, who is hitting over .400 and leads the team in on-base percentage and walks. Samantha Le is a four-year varsity starter at shortstop, and is hitting over .350 this season.
Senior Marisa Nahrwold is the ace of the pitching staff, having been a mainstay on the varsity squad since her sophomore year. She has struck out 53 batters over 34 innings this season, while also hitting nearly .400 at the plate.
Two juniors and six sophomores are new to the varsity squad this season, and they have taken a little bit of time for the team to blend together with the carryovers from last season.
“We’re a lot younger than people think we are,” Puglisi said. “They knew I had all these seniors coming back who have started for me since freshman year, but there’s quite a few sophomores that are there and have stepped up for us.”
One of those sophomores is Gianna Linfante, who is the team’s cleanup hitter and is hitting over .470 on the season. Gabby Gonzalez, another sophomore, leads the team in RBI.
This year, many teams seem to have an argument as to why they can bring home the A South title. The mix of veterans who have been there before and young players that want to live that same experience is the argument for Brick Township in its quest to repeat for the first time.
“The girls are fighting hard. We have a good mix of youth with our seniors, who are still hungry,” Puglisi said. “The leadership they have is some of the best I’ve ever had with this team in my seven years of coaching. They want to repeat again for the division and win some other championships this year.”