Donovan Catholic Claims 39th Annual Hammonton Invitational Championship
After 3 dominating wins in the Hammonton Invitational Softball tournament, Donovan Catholic was en route to the championship game and had a chance to take home some early season hardware. The team that stood in the way of the Griffins? A red-hot, undefeated Bordentown team who had been swinging the bats well behind stellar pitching from Allison Hoppe. Donovan Catholic had been playing all around lights out with two mercy rule wins over very good programs in Cherokee and Millville. Their other win was an 8-0 win over a highly talented Kingsway team.
The Donovan Catholic defense was led by Julia Apostolakos on the mound who let up just 1 run all weekend after pitching in every inning besides the final inning of a 15-0 win over Cherokee. That 1 run came in the first inning of the championship game against Bordentown. In the bottom half of the first inning of the championship game, Donovan Catholic answered with 2 runs on a bases loaded walk, then an overthrow by the Bordentown catcher allowed the runner on third to score. Another run wouldn’t be scored again until the bottom of the 3rd inning when Julia Apostolakos extended the Griffins lead with a laser over the fence in left-center field. As for Bordentown, the lone run in the first would be the only run they scored all game as Julia Apostolakos found her groove on the rubber.
Allison Hoppe shut down Donovan Catholic the next 2 innings, giving Bordentown some momentum. But, in the bottom of the 6th the dagger game after Madison Apostolakos drew a 2 out walk bringing up Jenna Giattino. Giattino showed off her power with an opposite field 2-run home run to seal the deal for Donovan Catholic holding a 5-1 lead needing 3 more outs in the top of the 7th to officially win it all. In said half inning, Julia Apostolakos toed the rubber for the final time this weekend and racked up her 11th, 12th, and 13th and final strikeouts of the game giving Donovan Catholic their first of a few possible trophies this year.
Talking with head coach Debbie Schwartz after the game the message she reiterates to her players is to “stay true to their game and take everything pitch by pitch”. That message played a huge part in the first inning after finally surrendering a run and also trailing in the game. Julia Apostolakos credits the team’s talent and work ethic as their recipe for success and consistency. Jenna Giattino chimed in stating “It’s reassuring knowing that if I drop a ball in center field then Maddie (Apostolakos) will back me up or if Julia is struggling on the mound then we will all have her back in the field and make the plays we need to”. It’s no shocker that the Griffins didn’t seem rattled in the field after being faced with a rare situation trailing on the scoreboard with a team filled with players returning from last year’s Tournament of Champions winning team.
Chris Baker from NJ Athletics. You can reach Chris on Twitter (@cbake_51) or you can reach him by email (email@example.com). Be sure to check out NJ Athletics on Instagram (@NJAthletics) and on Twitter (@nj_athletics)