Staff Report

If you’re worried about the economic value of high school sports, don’t be. The NJSIAA baseball and softball playoffs are proving that fans are definitely getting their money’s worth this spring. Of course, spring sports in high school are free to attend, and that makes it even better, as each day fans are getting treated to outstanding performances and shocking upsets.

Here’s a quick look at some happenings in the state playoffs to get you caught up, and some noteworthy performances from each section. Just yesterday alone several No. 1 seeds went down, including ninth-seeded Mainland baseball shocking South Jersey Group 3 by taking down No. 1 Shawnee. The No. 2 seed in SJG4, Vineland, is also gone after No. 7 Southern Regional went on the road to score a 5-2 victory, and in SJG2 top-seeded Cedar Creek was knocked off by No. 9 Seneca, which scored its second straight upset to reach the sectional semifinals.

BASEBALL

SOUTH JERSEY GROUP 4

Semifinal matchups: No. 5 Rancocas Valley at No. 1 Cherokee; No. 11 Eastern at No. 7 Southern.

Observations: This section was a little more wide open this season than in years past, and two double-digit seeds made it into the quarterfinals. Eastern is still alive thanks to 2-0 win over No. 3 Egg Harbor Township. The Vikings got RBIs from Sam Winsett and Rich Iulucci, and a tremendous pitching performance from Logan Dawson, who needed just 83 pitches to twirl a complete-game shutout that included four strikeouts and just two hits allowed. Unfortunately, this means we’ve seen the last of EHT star Cameron Flukey in a high school uniform. He’ll be taking his upper-90s fastball to Coastal Carolina — unless he gets drafted high enough next month in the MLB Amateur Draft. Top-seeded Cherokee is definitely dominating this section so far, as the Chiefs have outscored their first two opponents 14-2.

SOUTH JERSEY GROUP 3

Semifinal matchups: No. 9 Mainland at No. 4 Hammonton; No. 3 Cherry Hill West at No. 2 Delsea.

Observations: This is truly a shock to see Mainland in the semifinals — not because the Mustangs don’t have championship pedigree, but because they just haven’t put together any kind of consistency and had lost 4-of-6 heading into the playoffs. But against No. 1 Shawnee they turned to Cohen Cook, and the football and basketball star delivered, allowing just four hits in 6 2/3 innings to help Mainland pull off the 3-1 upset. Jackson Logar was just as good for Shawnee, striking out nine and allowing just five hits while going the distance. On the other side of the bracket, Delsea, the defending champion, just keeps getting things done. Ryan Harrison allowed just four hits in a complete game, 2-1 win over Ocean City in a rematch of last year’s final.

SOUTH JERSEY GROUP 2

Semifinal matchups: No. 9 Seneca at No. 4 Haddonfield; No. 3 Cinnaminson at No. 2 Haddon Heights.

Observations: Seneca’s football team had a tremendous season and now this spring the baseball team is feeling some good vibes as the boys from Tabernacle have knocked off Manchester and top-seeded Cedar Creek on their way to the semis. The Golden Eagles jumped out early on the Pirates, scoring four runs in the first two innings to run away with a 7-2 win over a team that came in with 19 wins. Seneca, like Mainland, had lost 4-of-6 heading into the playoffs.

SOUTH JERSEY GROUP 1

Semifinal matchups: No. 4 Paulsboro at No. 1 Buena; No. 2 Audubon at No. 3 Pennsville.

Observations: All chalk here in Group 1, as expected. Buena has 24 wins this season, including a 5-0 win over Audubon in the first round of the Diamond Classic. The Chiefs have a ton of experience, and after falling in the Cape-Atlantic League championship game, they have something to prove.

NON-PUBLIC A SOUTH

Observations: Not much yet, as only Notre Dame, the No. 6 seed, is into the semis so far after knocking off No. 3 Donovan Catholic. The rest of the quarterfinal matchups take place today. It would be surprising to see anything other than a matchup of No. 1 Red Bank Catholic vs. No. 2 St. Joseph-Metuchen in the title game of this section.

NON-PUBLIC B SOUTH

Gavin Cohen and Holy Spirit scored an upset against St. Rose in the quarterfinals of the Non-Public B South tournament. (South Jersey Glory Days file photo/Sully)

Semifinal matchups: No. 1 Gloucester Catholic/No. 8 Holy Cross winner vs. No. 5 Holy Spirit; No. 3 Bishop Eustace/No. 6 Doane Academy winner at No. 2 Ranney School.

Observations: Check out Spirit with the big quarterfinal upset on the road at St. Rose. That’s a long bus ride for the Spartans, but they made it worth the trip for coach Steve Normane. A title game featuring Gloucester Catholic vs. Ranney School would really be something to see. Ranney is one of, if not the best, team in the Shore Conference. They beat teams like Middletown South, Bishop Eustace, Red Bank Catholic and Rumson-Fair Haven, and they have just two losses — 7-6 to Delbarton and 2-0 to RBC in the Shore Conference Tournament title game.

SOFTBALL

SOUTH JERSEY GROUP 4

Semifinal matchups: No. 1 Egg Harbor Township/No. 8 GCIT winner vs. No. 4 Cherokee; No. 3 Kingsway/No. 11 Washington Township winner vs. No. 2 Lenape.

Observations: This is EHT’s bracket to lose, no way around that. The Eagles are the defending champion and have one of the deepest lineups in the state, as well as one of New Jersey’s best pitchers in Madison Dollard. And this team all year has made no bones about it, they want to win a state championship after losing in 9 innings to Watchung Hills last year.

SOUTH JERSEY GROUP 3

Semifinal matchups: No. 1 Ocean City/No. 9 Pinelands winner vs. No. 5 Shawnee; No. 3 Delsea/No. 6 Cherry Hill West vs. No. 2 Moorestown.

Observations: Tenth-seeded Mainland made a nice little run, beating Hammonton before falling 3-2 to Moorestown in the quarterfinals. This section is really up for grabs, as none of the top four seeds are really dominant, and the No. 4 seed, Triton, got knocked out in the opening round.

SOUTH JERSEY GROUP 2

Semifinal matchups: No. 5 Sterling at No. 1 Haddon Heights; No. 11 Cedar Creek at No. 2 Cinnaminson.

Liz Martin and Cedar Creek scored a pair of upsets this week to earn their way into the sectional semifinals. (South Jersey Glory Days file photo/Sully)

Observations: The Pirates have certainly crashed this party! Cedar Creek scored upset wins on the road at Middle Township and again at No. 3 Gloucester to reach the semis. They had a down year this year in terms of their record, but this team is used to being in the championship game of this section and with a pitcher like Liz Martin, you always have a chance. Haddon Heights sophomore Sophia Bordi is on a different level, though. In 93 innings pitched she has allowed just 13 runs, including just seven earned runs, while striking out 208 batters! Yikes. She’s also hitting .356 with 10 home runs and 20 RBIs.

SOUTH JERSEY GROUOP 1

Observations: Only No. 3 Woodstown is into the semis so far, with a slate of quarterfinal matchups today. Watch out for No. 7 Buena, coach Pam Pickett picked up win No. 700 this season and she knows how to win tense playoff games.

NON-PUBLIC A SOUTH

Semifinal matchups: No. 4 St. Thomas Aquinas at No. 1 Donovan Catholic; No. 3 St. John Vianney at No. 2 Notre Dame.

Observations: This could get very interesting next week. Donovan Catholic has just one loss — to Notre Dame — and the Griffins only beat St. John Vianney 4-3, in the Shore Conference Tournament title game. How bout this crazy stat — Donovan Catholic is hitting .429 as a team with 43 home runs! They’ve also scored 326 runs in 29 games.

NON-PUBLIC B SOUTH

Semifinal matchups: No. 1 St. Joseph Academy/No. 9 Rutgers Prep winner vs. No. 5 Doane Academy; No. 10 Timothy Christian at No. 3 Gloucester Catholic.

Observations: With Ava Fisher inside the circle, St. Joseph Academy is the team to beat here. Half of the Wildcats’ three losses have come against EHT, so they’re used to playing very talented teams.