By ANDY LOIGU
Despite a pair of home runs and four RBI from Jake Hall, the Hackettstown baseball team lost its season opener to visiting Newton by an 11-5 score on Palm Sunday.
The Tigers were rained out two days earlier. “We have only been outside five times, so it’s been frustrating,” said veteran Hackettstown coach Gary Poyer regarding a recent spell of bad weather which has limited the team’s opportunities to practice. The Tigers committed six errors in Sunday’s loss.
Dom Desiderio and Wayne Evans also had two-hit games against Newton.
The news is better for the Hackettstown boys lacrosse team, which has started its maiden varsity season with three wins in their first four games.
On Saturday, April 8, the Tigers defeated Pompton Lakes 12-6.
Garrett Gibbs finished with a game-high five goals for the roaring Tigers. Zach “Jazz” Jastrzebski scored two goals, assisted on three scores, and secured four ground balls for Hackettstown. Ben Arcona scored two goals and Zach Bergeron scored a goal and dealt four assists.
After achieving their first winning season in six years, Hackettstown softball coach Christina Sykora hopes that success “will be great fuel for our fire in the new season.”
With Nicole Carter returning to the pitching circle, the Tigers will be tough to beat. She pitched all 26 games last spring (the Tigers were 15-11) and struck out 94 batters while only walking 33. Centerfielder Molly O’Brien also returns, after slugging seven homers, driving in 26 runs, and getting 34 base hits as a freshman.
The Warren Hills Blue Streaks lost ace pitcher Madey Smith to Penn State and hope that junior Carly Berezny is successful in transitioning from catcher to pitcher this season. Carly’s older sister Amanda pitched the Blue Streaks to a sectional championship five years ago. Freshman Rachel Fitz will also pitch for Warren Hills this spring.
The offense, led by senior outfielder Alexis Fulper and senior infielder Amanda Maxwell, should be prolific. The catching duties will be shared by senior Samantha Domzalski and junior Brianna Garland.
The Blue Streaks were 12-9 overall last season, 7-3 in the Skyland Conference Raritan Division.
Belvidere plays in the Valley Division of the Skyland Conference and veteran coach Dan Dempsey hopes that with 10 returning players, the squad will improve on last year’s 9-12 overall record.
The strong point for Belvidere is expected to be its infield with three seniors, Rachel Dultz at first base, Emma Goldschmitt at shortstop, and Nicole Matlock at third base. Sophomore Alexis Conners will do most of the pitching.
Three talented players who graduated from Belvidere last year will be missed. Gina Myerchin, Ashley Wiedemann and Megan Wright leave big shoes to fill.
North Warren was 19-4 overall last season and coach Dan Delaney expects the Patriots to be in the hunt for the Colonial Division championship in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference.
Junior pitcher Jaclyn Bono returns to the circle after a super season in which she won 11, lost 2, and batted .403 for the Patriots. Senior first baseman Brianna Jones batted .324 last year.
Senior outfielder Paige McPeek and junior infielders Kelly Vuz and Lilli LePage also will be team leaders.
“We lost seven starters to graduation and we haven’t had much outdoor practice time yet, so I expect some early inconsistency, but I expect us to settle down quickly and contend for the conference championship,” Delaney said.
In the team’s opener on April 5 in Sparta, Vuz went 2-for-3 with a double and scored a run and Bono and Erika Plut drove in runs, but the Patriots lost 4-3 to Sussex Tech.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.