Donovan Catholic Wins Shore Conference Tournament Title
RED BANK – Donovan Catholic was set to crown a dynasty with a huge 2020 season. With the majority of his Tournament of Champions winning roster, the Griffins were set for another huge year.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and took the entire 2020 season. The seniors graduated and the Griffins had to start from scratch.
With a new roster filled mostly with new faces, Donovan Catholic quickly established themselves as the best team in the state this spring and laid their eyes on more championships.
The Griffins ticked one off the list Monday afternoon.
Courtesy of a solo home run by senior Adriana Romano at the bottom of the sixth round, first-seeded Donovan Catholic rallied for a 3-2 victory in the Shore Conference final Tournament against the Colts Neck, second seed and previously undefeated.
The conference title is the Griffins’ second all-time (21-1) and their first since 2018.
“We really had something to prove this year,” said second pitcher Julia Apostolakos. “We have proven something as a young team returning from a year off. It was amazing. “
“The good thing today is that it was a high-profile game, and we got there,” added Donovan Catholic head coach Debbie Schwartz. “It was a test for us. That’s what I considered a head coach, and we passed the test. It was huge.
With the score tied at two with two outs down the sixth inning, Romano went home. Barnegat’s transfer crisscrossed a pitch and threw it over the left center wall.
It was chaos as Romano toured the bases after the biggest success of his career.
“I just thought I would kick the ball strong, get on the goal and keep going,” said Romano. “I don’t even know how to describe it. I was so bloated. I was so excited. I could hear the noise from my teammates. I was so happy because this race matters.
Colts Neck (19-1) senior star pitcher Ava Metzger looked as strong as she has been all season and limited the Griffins to just six baserunners. It was a difficult sledge for Donovan Catholic.
So the Griffins used their elite power, scoring all three points on solo circuits. Shattering 33 home runs into the game, Donovan Catholic reduced his deficit to 2-0 by one at the bottom of the first set with a booming home run from Ashley Federico. The Griffins tied him up in fourth on a laser at Alyssa Apruzzi’s center field.
“We’ve been batting for power all season,” Schwartz said. “A passage is dangerous. You saw it today.
Donovan Catholic immediately fell into a 2-0 hole after the Colts Neck scored two runs to start the game. Melissa Deissler put the Cougars on the board with a sacrificial steal off Apostolakos, and Sofia Vaina scored on wild ground.
After a difficult start to the match, Apostolakos settled in and faced off against former Metzger. Apostolakos has allowed just three hits in the last six innings.
“She was very ready in the storm,” Schwartz said. “She took the heat, she settled in after the first run and she threw a jewel herself. I’m really proud of his performance today in a huge profile match.
For Colts Neck, it was the end of a historic SCT race. It was the Cougars’ first time qualifying for the conference title game, and they played a close game with the state’s top-ranked team, almost managing to be upset.
Metzger finished with 11 strikeouts and is set to lead the Cougars to a tournament in deep state.
“I couldn’t ask for more than to fight with the State’s No.1 team,” Colts Neck head coach Anthony Iachello said. “We fought and we did not come out on top, but I think the girls are now seeing what their potential is.”
History of the SCT finals
2021: Donovan Catholic 3, Colts Neck 2
2020: Tournament canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic
2019: St. John Vianney 4, Catholic Donovan 3
2018: Donovan Catholic 13, St. John Vianney 4
2017: St. John Vianney 10, Ocean Township 6 (9 rounds)
2016: Middletown North 5, Middletown South 2
2015: Middletown North 1, Middletown South 0 (8 rounds)
2014: St. John Vianney 12, Pinelands 0 (5 innings)
2013: Toms River East 3, St. John Vianney 1
2012: Wall 8, St. John Vianney 7
2011: St. John Vianney 3, Middletown South 1
2010: Red Bank Catholic 4, St. John Vianney 0
2009: Red Bank Catholic 3, Middletown South 0
2008: Toms River East 4, Red Bank Catholic 3 (9 innings)
2007: St. John Vianney 3, Toms River East 1
2006: St. John Vianney 3, Jackson 2 (10 innings)
2005: St. John Vianney 10, Catholic Red Bank 0
2004: St. John Vianney 1, Toms River East 0 (9 innings)
2003: Toms River East 5, Middletown South 1 (8 innings)
2002: St. John Vianney 4, Point Boro 0
2001: Manalapan 6, Township of Ocean 3
2000: Red Bank Catholic 2, wall 1
1999: St. John Vianney 6, Middletown South 0
1998: Toms River North 11, Middletown South 3
1997: St. John Vianney 5, Allentown 3 (11 innings)
1996: Middletown South 9, St. John Vianney 8
1995: Middletown South 5, Allentown 1
1994: Central 7, Allentown 0
1993: Toms River North 2, Central 1
1992: Township of Ocean 3, Middletown South 1
1991: Middletown South 12, wall 5
1990: Wall 18, Toms River East 3 (5 innings)
1989: Toms River East 10, Red Bank Catholic 0 (6 innings)
1988: Rivage 5, Manasquan 3
1987: Coast 4, Middletown North 0
1986: Manasquan 6, South Toms River 2
1985: Middletown South 3, Manasquan 1
1984: Middletown South 5, Middletown North 1
1983: Toms River North 9, Township of Ocean 4
1982: Township of Ocean 8, Middletown South 2
1981: Middletown South 14, bank 5
1980: Shore 7, Rumson-Fair Haven 1
1979: Matawan 16, Shore 0 (5 innings)
1978: Middletown South 9, Center 4
1977: Manasquan 9, Keyport 4
Danny LoGiudice has been covering local sports across New Jersey since 2014. Contact him at [email protected] or @danny_logiudice on Twitter.