By ANDY LOIGU
With Nicole Carter returning to the circle, the Tigers of Hackettstown are a tough softball team to beat this year.
Behind her steady pitching Hackettstown improved its record to 4-2 last week, with road wins at Morris Hills, North Warren and High Point.
The Tigers won 12-0 at Morris Hills, with Carter pitching a two-hitter. She struck out six while walking nobody. At bat, she dinged two base hits and drove in a run. Centerfielder Molly O’Brien led the Tigers offensively going 3-for-4, scoring three runs and driving in three. Hunter Ruppel, Samantha Mandas and Carly Curcio joined the party with two RBI each.
Carter drove in two runs and pitched a four-hitter in a 7-1 victory at North Warren.
High Point stands at the highest elevation above sea level in New Jersey, but the altitude did not bother Carter and her Tiger teammates. She pitched a nifty two-hitter with three strikeouts and one walk. Curcio (2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored) and O’Brien (2-for-4 and an RBI and run) paced the offense.
Carter pitched all 26 games last spring (the Tigers were 15-11) and struck out 94 batters while only walking 33. O’Brien slugged seven homers, drove in 26 runs, and got 34 base hits as a freshman, and is clearly picking up where she left off.
WARREN HILLS TRANSITIONING
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.
Warren Hills outslugged Ridge 13-12 on Tuesday afternoon. Carly Berezny led a come-from-behind win with a homer, triple, and 4 RBI after Warren Hills trailed 7-2. Garland drove in three runs.
In their previous game, Warren Hills was shutout 8-0 by Sparta.
HALL POWERS TIGERS
In baseball, it has been an up and down start for the 2-2 Tigers, but the thunderous bat of Jake Hall has been consistent.
The strong point for the Tigers was expected to be its outfield with rifle armed right fielder Hall and gazelle-like centerfielder Matt Arcona returning.
In an 11-4 win at rival North Warren on April 13, Hall homered and went 2-for-4. Ryan Arcona drove in three runs while going 2-for-4 and Alex Rodriguez was 3-for-4.
North Warren was led by two RBI from Josh Colon.
In their previous game, Hackettstown was guilty of several fielding misplays that enabled visiting High Point to get back into the bus with a 12-10 win.
The Tigers won at Vernon 9-5 on April 10. The old Dolly Parton song “working nine to five” comes to mind, but that was so 1980.
Joey Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with 3 RBI and pitched five innings (five hits, three strikeouts, three walks). Matt Arcona was the fireman, giving up two hits and walking one while striking out a batter in a two-inning relief appearance.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.