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A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains - Fanwood Thursday, March 23, 2000 Page 13


THE WEEK IN SPORTS Check it out on the website! www. goleader. com Sports Section pages 1316


Devil Boy Laxers Expect More Success This Year


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

Team balance and strong leadership can be expected from this year’s Westfield High School boys lacrosse team. With very few seniors and a relatively young team, the Blue Devils finished 911 but finished in style by scaring the then fourthranked Summit Hilltoppers in their final game, falling just 87.

“We lacked a little leadership last year because we had only a few seniors,” commented Blue Devil Head Coach Gerry Benaquista. “But, this year we are more balanced with 10 seniors. And pretty much all of them can contribute.”

Benaquista plans to get plenty of offense from two senior QuadCaptains attacker Sean Joffe, who scored 17 goals while adding 10 assists, and midfielder Mike Todd, who fired in nine goals while adding 10 assists. Additionally strong offensive punch could come from senior attacker Alex Lau (14 goals and eight assists) and junior midfielder Brad Gillin (eight goals and six assists).

“Alex (Lau) was probably our strongest guy at the end of the season,” pointed out Benaquista.

Senior midfielders Erik Finne, Mike Brunhoffer and Michael Orlando

and junior Matt Simone along with attackers Ryan Hogarth, senior, and junior Chris Dodge could makeup the remainder of the offense.


Speed, Maturity Will Place Devil Softballers in the Hunt


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

Speed and defensive maturity may put the Westfield High School girls softball team back in the hunt for county and sectional honors this season.

Last year, the Blue Devils provided plenty of clout with the “thunder sticks”, finishing with a .337 batting average and producing 55 extrabase hits which included 17 home runs, 15 triples and 23 doubles. Heading the list of sluggers then were Sue Phillips, Courtney Thornton and Paige Corbett.

Phillips, who graduated, may leave an offensive gap since she led the team with 32 hits and 28 RBI while finishing with a .451 batting average. Even more impressive, she was also solid in the catcher’s position with a .946 fielding average.

“Susan as a catcher was very reliable and like a rock back there but we have (junior) Carolyn Matthews who was our JV catcher,” said Blue Devil Head Coach Maggie McFadden. “It will take her a little time to make the

adjustment. But she is a good little athlete and she will be just fine. She can catch the ball real well and she’s quick coming out from the plate. Also, with her quickness, she will not need a courtesy runner.”

However, Corbett, now a senior, produced plenty of thunder, leading the team with a slugging percentage of .757 and tying for the lead with Thornton with six home runs. She definitely got the job done, crossing the plate 28 times and driving in 24. Additionally, she was superb in centerfield.

“Paige is deceptively powerful. She has a very good swing,” said McFadden. “She rarely strikes out, so she’s going to make contact. And defensively, she is the most solid outfielder that I have.”

Thornton, a junior shortstop, hammered in 25 RBI, scored 30 runs and terrorized opposing pitchers with nine stolen bases. Her quickness at shortstop earned her a teamleading 58 assists.

“She has got the most experience in terms of hitting. This is her third

year at hitting varsity pitching,” said McFadden. “And she is strong. She has a strong arm and can be a leader.”

Expect to see senior left fielder Katie Richards contribute plenty of offense this season. Richards led the Blue Devils with a .488 batting average and a .542 onbase percentage while scoring 16 runs and executing five sacrifices.

“Katie is very fast. She got on base a lot last year,” commented McFadden. “This year, she is a little stronger and could provide some more power. The one thing that I can always count on with Katie is that she always makes contact.”

Seniors Katy Brunetto, right field, and Kristen Leonardis, at second, will add offensive stability. Brunetto showed some power while finishing with a .329 batting average, knocked in 14 runs and scored 19. Leonardis had deceptive power, scored 15 runs and drove in 14. Look for a possible shortage of bases as Leonardis has been known to steal. Breaking into the lineup and adding more speed


Lady Raiders Expect Strong Pitching for Softball Success


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

Much responsibility will be placed on the strong battery (pitching and catching) of the Scotch PlainsFanwood High School girls softball team this season and several infield and outfield decisions must be made.

Last year, some fine speed and batting skills were provided by shortstop Jen Stewart and second baseman Diane Mendez who have graduated. Stewart led the offense with a .452 batting average and 28 hits while stealing 19 bases and scoring 21 runs. Mendez finished with a .360

batting average, 27 hits, 16 runs scored, 19 RBI and a teamleading 22 stolen bases. Making up the heart of the defense, both were instrumental in preventing ground balls from escaping the infield.

With the graduation of Stewart, Mendez and first baseman Jan Weiner, how will the Raiders’ defense hold up?

“We lost first, second and short but we will have (junior) Megan Miller at first who played center last year. She did very well batting last year,” pointed out Raider Head Coach Frank Butz.

Miller finished second in batting average for the Raiders with a .431

average. A great contact hitter with some power, she thumped five triples and amassed 19 RBI while striking out only three times.

The Raiders will have some position juggling to do early in the season. Who will fill in the vacancies at short and second?

“I think what’s going to happen is (senior) Lauren Regenthal who has played as a sophomore and had a knee injury last year will start at shortstop and until Kellie LaForge is ready to play, I imagine Katie Blom


Fences Will Be Up as Raiders Expect Exciting Ball Season


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

The fences will be up, indicating that this year’s Scotch PlainsFanwood baseball team can whack the ball. Additionally, the Raiders appear to be more refined defen sively and seem to have a stronger

pitching staff. Despite a rebuilding year with only three returning varsity starters, good things happened toward the end of last year’s season as the Raiders honed their skills, finishing 74 in their last

11 games. “We started to play a little bit better at the end of the season,” said Raider Head Coach Brian Homm. “Hopefully, we can start where we left off. We don’t want to begin at the starting block again. I’m hoping to at least maintain that level where we left off.”

With such a young team, the most prevalent problem came in the fielding.

“We made a lot of mistakes in the field last year. Last year was a learning experience. This year we won’t make quite so many. And, hopefully, we will get the job done.”

Noticeably lost to graduation was pitcher and team TriCaptain Joe Franzone who led the Raiders with a remarkable .482 batting average. Blasting two home runs and ripping three triples while scoring 19 runs and driving in 13, his slugging ability will be missed.

However, the Raiders put together some offense and senior team CoCaptain Dave Herrmann will be the main “man with the thunder stick”. Last year, he led the Raiders with 23 RBI and 26 hits while batting .441. He was the most difficult Raider to strikeout as he fanned only five times in 59 at bats. When not covering center field, Herrmann shared the pitching responsibilities.

“Yes! We hit the ball well and we lost a few kids who could hit but I think that we have several kids who are going to score some runs,” said Homm.

To prove it, Homm emphasized, “We are putting the fences back up. We have some kids who can hit it out. It would be crazy not to put it up.”

But several Raiders possess “lightning”, and senior Tim Pei, who posed an awesome threat to opposing pitchers last year, could be expected to be so this season. Without a fence, Pei


CONTINUED ON PAGE 15 CONTINUED ON PAGE 15 David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader and The Times DEVIL BOY LAXERS QUADCAPTAINS… Four ablebodied athletes will guide the Blue Devil boys lacrosse team this season. Pictured, left to right, are: front; Mike Todd and Sean Joffe; back, Brian Gallagher and Pat Tuohy.

David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader and The Times RAIDER COCAPTAINS… Seniors Dave Herrmann, left, and Dan Gouhry have been named as the Raider baseball team’s CoCaptains.

David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader and The Times (Files) THE RAIDERS RISE TO DEFEAT THE COUGARS… Raider Diana Mendez takes a cut at the ball in a game against the Cranford girls last year. This particular game ended with a 43 Raider victory.

David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader and The Times (Files) DEFINITELY AN ONGOING RIVALRY… The Cranford Cougars and the Blue Devil girls have been fierce rivals for decades. Here, Blue Devil Kristen Leonardis scores on the Cougars in a game in Cranford last year.
Copyright 2000 - The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch Plains-Fanwood
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)