Jersey Shore falls short after incredible run to softball Carpenter Cup final

Jersey Shore made one miraculous comeback to reach the Softball Carpenter Cup final on Wednesday at FDR Park in Philadelphia.

It came up six inches short of another in the final before falling to Mid Penn, 1-0, in the championship game of the 16-team tournament.

Shore’s Riley Lawrence tripled down the right-field line past the diving outfielder and tried for a game-tying inside-the-park home run with two outs in the seventh, but Mid Penn executed the relay and a strong throw to home plate beat Lawrence , who came up just a few inches short on her head-first slide.

In the semifinal, Jersey Shore was in the exact same position, down 1-0 to SOL with two outs in the seventh and nobody on base when Red Bank Catholic’s Sophia Lasater hit a fly ball to deep left field that fell in. The relay to the cutoff wasn’t as smooth, though, and Laster kept running, tying the game.

“I thought it was really close (to going out),” said Lasater. “I was really pumped. I didn’t think I would make it home. The coach held me at second, but then I saw her bobble the ball and I said ‘You know what, I’m going to chance it, why not?’

“I trusted myself, took it home and tied up the game. I just felt something, that I would do it. We got it back and we managed to pull through and win the semifinal.”

Jersey Shore erupted for five runs in the eighth after typing the game. Adrianna Lisotto’s bases-loaded walk and Jiana Maniscalo’s two-run singles were the key at-bats in the frame.

When Lawrence began her dash around the bases in the final, the Jersey Shore coaches and players could hardly believe what they were seeing.

“It was deja vu all over again,” said ace Giana Abinanti of Freehold Borough.

Added Jersey Shore coach Tony Flego: “I’m watching it and thinking this can’t be. I’ve never seen anything like that in my entire life. The kids battled right to the end. Sophia’s an athlete and she had the opportunity so why not, same with Riley in the last game. Make it happen. It’s all good.”

Jersey Shore, which went 2-1 on Monday to qualify for the quarterfinals, opened the day Wednesday with a stunning 11-0 victory over Olympic Colonial – which had allowed just two runs in three games on Tuesday and featured three players from Haddon Heights, which won the Tournament of Champions.

“I told the girls none of you will probably have this opportunity again to face the No. 1 pitcher in the state (Sophia Bordi, who allowed two runs and struck out 10 in four innings),” said Flego. “So put your hat on that. To score against her was awesome. We’re riding up here, and I’m looking at her stats saying we’re not going to be here long today. More credit to (the Jersey Shore players), they had more confidence in themselves than probably I did, but that game gave us confidence.”

Abinanti and Middletown North’s Madilynn Boyce combined to allow just three runs in three games on Wednesday. Abinanti pitched 12 innings, throwing the first four innings in each game with Boyce – a freshman with some wicked movement on her pitches – relieving.

“It was exciting, nerve-racking actually,” said Abinanti. “Twelve innings, but I was ready to come in any time, any point, so it was good. I was definitely happy with how I pitched, and I had backup behind me so I was confident in my team.”

Lasater said she’ll be back in future years to make another run at the title and even though Jersey Shore came up just short said she was elated with the experience.

“We didn’t expect to come this far,” said Lasater. “We trusted our players more than I thought we would because we are all girls from different schools, and it’s hard sometimes to click like that.

“I knew it would be a challenge today, it’s one and done. These teams are really tough with these pitchers, these are some of the best. I’m glad my team pulled through. t was a really good experience to play with all these kids. I’m really proud of how we played.”

Tri Cape – the third Jersey team to qualify for the quarterfinals – was forced to withdraw because of COVID safety protocols. Tri Cape would have faced Mid Penn in the quarterfinals.

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Bill Evans can be reached at [email protected]. Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting with a subscription.

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