Staff report
Coaches preach all the time about how they want their team to be playing its best down the stretch and heading into the state playoffs. Second-year Egg Harbor Township softball skipper Kristi Troster — who really is in her first year, as she had her rookie season wiped out due to Covid-19 — feels like her Eagles are starting to fire on all cylinders, and Wednesday’s 2-0 win over the No. 9 team in the state may be the first indicator that EHT is ready for South Jersey Group 4.
The visiting Eagles got a pair of runs in the third inning and that was enough as they blanked St. Joseph Academy, 2-0, handing the Wildcats their first loss of the season after 20 straight wins. EHT avenged a 2-1 loss to the Wildcats on May 3 and somehow found a way to score multiple runs against Makayla Veneziale, who had allowed just 12 earned runs all season heading into the game.
Madison Biddle reached on a bloop double in the third and came around to score on a single by Sienna Walterson, and later in the inning Payton Colbert drove home Walterson with a bases-loaded walk. EHT rapped out eight hits and had 10 other base runners via a walk or hit batsman.
“We had 15 runners left on base and left the bases loaded three times. I was proud of us, we had runners on base every inning against a pitcher that good, that’s a good day for us. She’s a really good pitcher,” Troster said. “We gave them a great game the last time we played them, unfortunately our gloves didn’t do what they should have and that was one of big differences in the last game. This game, we didn’t have mistakes that cost us. In that first game we had a runner picked off third and some errors in the field.”
Senior Haley Korsak got EHT through the first four innings, allowing just one hit while striking out eight before Troster turned to freshman Madison Dollard to give the Wildcats a different look. Dollard has been getting more time inside the circle recently and is proving herself to be a second ace to Korsak.
“(Haley) had a couple of walks, which is uncharacteristic of her, and they had a couple of hits, so they were seeing the ball well. I just said, you know what? Let’s not try to get through the top of their order a third time with the same pitcher,” Troster explained. “Fortunately we have two aces, and (Dollard) has gone in during some tough situations before. She went in when Kingsway was hitting Haley a little bit, and she came in during the Cedar Creek game. So there have been a couple games where she’s come in at the halfway point.”
Dollard allowed just two hits while striking out five in her three innings of work, and her ability to come in and get outs will only make EHT (15-3) a more formidable threat once the state playoffs begin in about two weeks.
“It’s the right time of the season (for a win like this),” Troster said. “Our bats are in a pretty good spot right now and I felt like we making better decisions in this game against (Veneziale). This is two weeks before playoffs and we have about four games left. We have a couple games against quality opponents — we have Eastern, Cedar Creek and Millville — so I think that’s a great spot to be in heading into the playoffs. I think this win (vs. St. Joe) gives us a lot of confidence, it was a quality win.”