Lady Clippers Defend Their Title!
Over in Audubon, NJ. The 1 seed Green Wave softball team looked to knock off defending State Group 1 champs Clayton in the sectional final. Clayton came in as the 2 seed and also with a huge target on their back. Clayton had practically come out of nowhere last year knocking off historic Group 1 powerhouse, Gloucester, in the sectional final and had beaten Whippany Park in the state final. Clayton then went on to beat Robbinsville in the first round of the Tournament of Champions but ultimately fell to eventual champion, Donovan Catholic. This year Clayton came in on a mission. Their mission in question? Repeat as sectional and state champs and eventually win the Tournament Of Champions. After today, Clayton checked off their first box by winning the sectional title.
Allyson Koerner got the start on the mound after Meadow Lake had started in Clayton’s last playoff win which came on Tuesday against Gloucester. Koerner had thrown 4 no hit innings along with 9 strikeouts and allowing 2 hits and 1 run which was earned. On the offensive side Koerner went 1-3 with an RBI single and included a sac bunt that set up teammate Alana Gannon to drive in Gianna Ettore a few pitches later. Clayton flat out dominated from first pitch to last at all 9 positions in the field and in the lineup. The Lady Clippers set the bar at 4 runs to Audubon’s 0, riding a 4 run top of the 3rd and building on it throughout the game. In the most fitting way possible, one of Clayton’s unsung and quietest heroes and biggest producers Brionna Berwick, caught the final out. The senior shortstop had started the scoring and put an end to the game catching a fly ball directly to her. Once the ball hit Berwick’s glove and she secured it, the celebration had begun! Clayton had repeated as South Jersey Group 1 champions!
Coach Joe Moore had nothing but high praise for his team while also focusing on the next possible matchup. “These girls show up and play everyday. They’ve been in some big games and tough games including last season. After the loss to a good Rancocas Valley team, people started talking and questioning us. Our girls heard all of the chatter obviously but they brushed it off and went to work.” Moore also had high praise for his opponents along the way the last two years. “To beat a team like Gloucester 4 times in a row and a team like Pennsville 6 times in a row and then come out and have to beat a team like Audubon, that is very tough to do”. Senior Brionna Berwick described the team’s mindset throughout the sectional playoffs as “taking it one game at a time”. “Yeah it could be easy to overlook a South Jersey championship the year after winning a state championship and South Jersey championship but that is not what we’re here to do. We have goals and we take them one game at a time”.
Winning pitcher Allyson Koerner had revealed postgame that before the season began she had been coming back from a broken left clavicle. “It’s always a bit nerve racking coming back from an injury because you never know how you’ll bounce back but after the 1st inning getting out of a jam gave me some relief.”
Chris Baker from NJ Athletics. You can reach Chris on Twitter (@cbake_51) or you can reach him by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Be sure to check out NJ Athletics on Instagram (@NJAthletics) and on Twitter (@nj_athletics)