Murphy Has High Hopes for Potential NJ Spring Sports Season
Weeks after New Jersey schools closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a decision from Gov. Phil Murphy (D) today brought hope to student-athletes in the Garden State for a potential spring sports season in 2020. Murphy announced Thursday afternoon at his daily press conference that all schools in New Jersey would stay closed until at least Friday, May 15. “We cannot be guided by emotion,” Murphy said. “We need to be guided by the facts on the ground — science and public health — take us. That means it will not be safe to reopen our schools, or start sports back up, for at least another four weeks.” That decision leaves the door open for student-athletes in New Jersey to play out a shortened season. Six days ago, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association laid out a contingency plan for a spring sports season with the potential for “modified state championships” played all the way up until June 30. “The return-to-school date and related public health guidelines will continue to determine the viability of a spring sports season,” the NJSIAA said after Murphy’s announcement. “As noted, NJSIAA is committed to doing whatever is possible to provide New Jersey’s student-athletes with some type of spring season. We have models in place that allow for competition starting as late as May 25, but given the late start date, tournament play may not be viable. Our commitment to conclude the spring season, no later than June 30 stands. As the governor noted, we remain hopeful.” Murphy initially ordered schools be closed on March 18 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, the virus caused from this strain of coronavirus. As of April 16, New Jersey has confirmed 75,317 positive cases and 3,518 deaths from COVID-19. There are over 2 million confirmed cases worldwide. The winter sports season was affected by the coronavirus pandemic, as well. There was no group championship tournament or a Tournament of Champions in either boys or girls basketball this past season. “It’s hard, but if we all keep pulling and working together, I hope that it will put me in a position in a months time, to make a different announcement,” Murphy said. “There is no doubt we are saving lives and we must maintain the course.” Stay tuned with Jersey Sports Zone for all the latest updates on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting high school athletics in New Jersey, as well as features and highlight reels on student-athletes.
Senior Spotlight: Allie Bridgman
Coronavirus has brought the world to a screeching halt at the moment, and that includes high school sports in the Garden State. JSZ is spotlighting prominent senior athletes who are waiting and hoping to take the field again this spring. Our mission is to tell their stories, and share how they’re trying to stay ready, both physically and mentally. Allie Bridgman helped lead Hightstown to its first ever Group 4 State Championship in 2019, she finished with a .485 batting average, 52 RBI’s and 233 strikeouts. JSZ’s Nery Rodriguez sat down with the Fairfield University commit: Thank you to Princeton Orthopaedic Associates for sponsoring our Hightstown coverage.
JSZ Spring Senior Spotlight: Karina Gaskins
Coronavirus has brought the world to a screeching halt at the moment, and that includes high school sports in the Garden State. JSZ is spotlighting prominent senior athletes who are waiting and hoping to take the field again this spring. Our mission is to tell their stories, and share how they’re trying to stay ready, both physically and mentally. Today’s JSZ Spring Senior Spotlight features Donovan Catholic star Karina Gaskins. JSZ’s Jay Cook spoke with the University of Virginia commit: Sponsor Shoutout! JSZ’s coverage of the Shore Conference is brought to you by ACI Medical & Dental School.
JSZ Spring Senior Spotlight: Jess Ingram
Coronavirus has brought the world to a screeching halt at the moment, and that includes high school sports in the Garden State. JSZ is spotlighting prominent senior athletes who are waiting and hoping to take the field again this spring. Our mission is to tell their stories, and share how they’re trying to stay ready, both physically and mentally. Today’s JSZ Spring Senior Spotlight features Mainland softball standout Jess Ingram. JSZ’s Mike Frankel recently spoke with the Holy Family University commit: JSZ Spring Senior Spotlight is brought to you in part by NJM Insurance.
NJSIAA Leaves Door Open on Spring Sports Season
It’s been nearly a month since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down life as we know it not only in New Jersey, but across the country, too. New Jersey high school sports has been put on the back burner in the past weeks as New Jerseyans battle to flatten the curve. The basketball season concluded prematurely without Group championships or a Tournament of Champions. The spring sports season was also indefinitely put on hold after Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all schools in-state to close. Today, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) published clear guidelines on “if, and when, a return to (spring) athletics is permitted.” “Along with our leagues and conferences, the NJSIAA has determined and communicated with member schools that if competitive events are possible, they will conclude no later than June 30,” the state athletic association said in a statement Friday. “Various models have been established based on potential return dates that range from mid-May to the end of that month, and leagues and conferences will be given substantial scheduling flexibility.” Here’s a breakdown of the NJSIAA’s plan: June 30 is the absolute latest date that the spring sports season will be extended to.Student-athletes in every sport, except for golf, must practice six days with one rest day. After the first three day, student-athletes can participate in scrimmages that will count as practice days.If athletics resume prior to May 25, the NJSIAA will run “modified sectional tournaments” in late June. Teams that do or don’t qualify for a sectional tournament can continue to play up until June 30.If athletics resume after Memorial Day, May 25, there will be no sectional tournaments. However, leagues and conferences will still be allowed to play games up until that June 30 cutoff date. The NJSIAA’s plan could potentially be moot. Gov. Phil Murphy has not given a concrete answer as to whether or not New Jersey schools will reopen this spring. Yesterday, Pennsylvania’s state athletic association cancelled the spring sports season in its entirety. “The return-to-school date and related public health guidelines will continue to determine the viability of a spring sports season,” the NJSIAA said. “As noted, the NJSIAA is committed to doing whatever is possible to provide New Jersey’s student-athletes with some type of spring season. Stay tuned with Jersey Sports Zone for any and all updates about a potential spring sports season, as well as features and highlight reels on some of the top athletes in the state.
USA Softball Legend Jennie Finch and Her Platform to Empower Young Women
It’s been nine years since Jennie Finch last threw a professional pitch, but the USA Softball Hall of Famer arguably has a bigger platform than ever before. Finch, who has become the de facto American softball ambassador, uses her success on the diamond to inspire the next generation of young female athletes. Her reach goes far and wide — from working with Major League Baseball to face-to-face interactions on a personal level. Finch spoke with JSZ’s Jay Cook at Diamond Nation after the start to two new programs — the Jennie Finch Northeast Nationals and the National Softball College Camp: Sponsor Shoutout! Thanks to Diamond Nation for being a loyal sponsor of Jersey Sports Zone — they’re the reason we were able to be on hand and tell this story.
JSZ Year in Review: Top Softball Games of 2019
Jersey Sports Zone is about capturing great video highlights. As we get ready to turn the page towards the 2019-20 school year, we take one more look back at the top games captured by our cameras. Our series continues with wrestling. First time champions, walk-offs, dominating pitching performances, New Jersey sets the bar high when it comes to softball. Here are our most viewed games of the 2019 season. 10. Cedar Grove 7 Buena 1 Cedar Grove remained amongst the top powers in the state throughout 2019. The Panthers raised a Group 1 State Championship thanks to 12 hits as pitcher Mia Faieta allowed just two and one earned run from the mound. 9. Lodi Immaculate 4 St. Joseph (Hammonton) 0 Immaculate Conception is no stranger to State Titles, the Blue Wolves captured their seventh straight Non-Public B Crown with a 4-0 shutout against St. Joseph (Hammonton). A huge 3-run home run from sophomore Christina Braid would open the lead late in this intense showdown. 8. Robbinsville 9 Steinert 5 Hard to top a better ending to a rivalry game than a grand slam to take the lead in the top of the seventh. Robbinsville’s Devon Witt can cross it off her bucket list as she propelled the Ravens to a 9-5 win over Steinert with one swing of the bat. 7. Steinert 10 Hamilton West 0 Reigning Tournament of Champion Winners Steinert began the season with an impressive 10-0 shutout over Colonial Valley Conference rival Hamilton West. It was a preview of things to come as the Spartans remained in the NJ Top 20 for all of 2019. 6. Donovan Catholic 10 Cedar Grove 0 The final softball game of the year saw a dominant power raise its very first Tournament of Champions Title. Donovan Catholic ended an impressive season with a huge win over a state power to make history. 5. Middletown North 5 Chatham 0 They may have been overlooked at times, but make no mistake Middletown North was in the driver’s seat the entire time. The Lions raised their very first Group 3 State Championship with a 5-0 win over Chatham. 4. Hightstown 9 Mount Olive 4 Emotions ran high in this battle of rookie State Title contenders. Highstown won its first ever group 4 state final following an impressive performance from pitcher Allie Bridgman that included 3 RBI’s and 10 strikeouts. 3. Westfield 8 Middletown North 6 It took 11 innings, but Westfield was able to best eventual State Champions Middletown North 8-6. A total of four home runs from both teams headlined this wild finish. 2. Ramsey 2 Bordentown 1 Who doesn’t like a walk-off? Emma Cunningham helped lead Ramsey to the Group 2 State Title with a heroic late inning hit for a 2-1 win over Bordentown. 1. Donovan Catholic 11 Mount Saint Donovan 1 Donovan Catholic continued a historic season as they captured their first Non-Public A State Title before winning the Tournament of Champions. DC edged Mount Saint Mary’s 11-1 to advance to the TOC Final.
Vote now for JSZ’s Spring Sports Plays of the Year!
Big moments, amazing athleticism and pure power highlight Jersey Sports Zone’s spring sports plays of the year. We have over 40 nominees in three categories. Watch the best highlights captured by our cameras and cast your vote now! The 2019 spring sports season has come to a close and JSZ went through all of our games to pick the best plays captured by our camera. We’ve got nominees for the JSZ Lax goal of the year, web gem of the year (baseball and softball) plus the spring sports clutch play of the year featuring walk-off wins on the diamond, overtime lax thrillers and great arms from the outfield on the diamond. Our polls will stay open through Friday at 3:00 pm and we will honor our plays of the year winners this summer. A special thanks to all the athletes who are responsible for these fantastic clips! JSZ Lax Goal of the Year Take Our Poll JSZ Spring Sports Clutch Play of the Year Take Our Poll JSZ Web Gem of the Year Take Our Poll
Donovan Catholic Leaves No Doubt in Historic TOC Win
Donovan Catholic has had it’s fair share of dominant wins across the 2019 season, but none meant as much or were as sweet as Friday night’s 10-0 statement against Cedar Grove in the third-ever Tournament of Champions final. It was a total team effort. Starting pitcher Lindsay Nelson tossed five innings of shutout softball with five strikeouts and the Griffins saw four different players knock in multiple runs en route to the mercy-rule win in five innings. JSZ’s Jay Cook has all the highlights and post-game reaction from Newark on a day that will certainly go down in New Jersey softball and Donovan Catholic history:
Watch Sunday 6.2 State Championship Softball Highlights
Three more state champions are crowned on Sunday at Kean University. JSZ has the highlights and post-game reaction from all three title games. We’ve got Cedar Grove busting out a dozen hits on Buena, the first ever state title for Middletown North and the finale between Lodi Immaculate and St. Joe-Hammonton Lodi Immaculate 4 St. Joseph (Hammonton) 0 | Non-Public B Championship No. 8 in the NJ Top 20 Immaculate Conception (Lodi) grabbed their seventh straight Non-Public B Title with a close 4-0 victory over St. Joe’s (Hammonton). The Blue Wolves got ahead early on a solo homerun from Abby Tabaka in the the fourth inning. In the fifth it was Christina Braid’s turn as the Junior sent a three run shot over the left field wall to give Lodi a 4-0 lead. Pitcher Caylee English finished her complete game strong as she ended the day with just three hits allowed and six strikeouts. JSZ’s Nery Rodriguez has the highlights: Middletown North 5 Chatham 0 | Group 3 State Championship Malori Bell has arguably been the most consistent and dominant pitcher in New Jersey this season, so much so it surprised no one that she threw a complete game shutout with seven strikeouts as Middletown North won its first state championship in school history. The Lions exploded for four runs in the fifth inning to indefinitely take the lead. JSZ’s Jay Cook has the highlights from Kean University: Cedar Grove 7 Buena 1 | Group 1 State Championship The Panthers scored three runs each in the second and third innings as part of a 12 hit attack and Mia Faieta pitched a complete game two-hitter with eight strikeouts to give the Panthers the state title. JSZ’s Rich Chrampanis has the highlights from Kean University:
Watch Saturday 6.1 State Championship Softball Highlights
Three state champions are crowned at Kean University and JSZ was there for highlights and post-game reaction from the trio of title games. A reminder that we’ll also have highlights of three more state finals on Sunday from Kean. Enjoy the highlights and congratulations to all the state champions! Donovan Catholic 11 Mount St. Dominic 1 – Non-Public A State Championship Donovan Catholic proved why they’re New Jersey’s best team, plain and simple. Only 24 hours after winning a marathon game in the sectional finals, the Griffins went right to business — they shot out to a 9-0 lead after an explosive first inning and never looked back after finishing Mount St. Dominic via the mercy rule in five innings. JSZ’s Jay Cook has all the highlights and post-game reaction from this historic first state title in Donovan Catholic history: Hightstown 9 Mount Olive 4 – Group 4 State Championship For the first time in program history No. 10 in the NJ Top 20 Hightstown brought home the Group 4 State Championship. Mount Olive would take a 1-0 lead in the top of the third before Morghan Fleisher would help the Rams go ahead 2-1 on a 2 RBI double in the bottom of the inning. Hightstown eventually led 5-1 before the Marauders cut it to a one run lead in the sixth. However, thanks to a two run homer from Abby Bell and a 2 RBI double from pitcher Allie Bridgman they pushed the deficit to 9-4 in the sixth. Bridgman finished the day with 10 strikeouts. JSZ’s Nery Rodriguez has the highlights: Thank you to Princeton Orthopaedic Associates for sponsoring our Hightstown coverage! Ramsey 2 Bordentown 1 – Group 2 State Championship Emma Cunningham’s base hit to left plated younger sister Sophie with the game winning run in the bottom of the 7th to give the Rams their first state title since 2015 after losing in the finals in the previous two years. Bordentown jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a solo homer from Makenza Goleniecki, but Ramsey responded in the third with a two out RBI single courtesy of catcher Kaitlin Houser. In the bottom of the 7th, Sophie Cunningham bunted her way to first followed by base hit from pitcher Victoria Sebastian setting the stage for Emma Cunningham’s heroics. JSZ’s Rich Chrampanis has the highlights and fantastic post-game reaction from Kean University:
Delsea Advances in South Jersey Group 3 Softball Playoffs
No. 20 Delsea 5 Absegami 0 – Group 3 South Opening Round Diana Parker threw a complete game one-hitter, finishing with 16 strikeouts to lead the Crusaders to victory. Gianna Cava broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning with a two-out single to score two runs. Briana Booras also had two RBIs in the win. Kaylin Flukey struck out four and had a double for the Braves in the loss. JSZ’s Mike Frankel has the highlights as #4 Delsea advances to face #5 Seneca in the sectional quarterfinals: Coverage of Delsea is brought to you by NJM Insurance.
Steinert softball ends nine year county tournament drought
No. 7 Steinert 1 No. 12 Hightstown 0 – Mercer County Tournament Final No. 7 Steinert (3) defeated No. 12 Highstown (1) 1-0 to claim their first Mercer County Tournament Title since 2010. A pitching duel between Steinert’s Kaylee Whittaker and Hightstown’s Allie Bridgeman took center stage early. Whittaker had five strikeouts in the first two innings as Bridgeman had four. Bella Truelove drove in the only run of the game on an RBI single in the top of the third. The Spartans continued to hold onto that small lead thanks to the continued outstanding pitching from Kaylee Whittaker. Whittaker finished with just 2 hits allowed and racked up 17 strikeouts. Steinert under first year Head Coach Jenn Melker brought home the program’s ninth MCT Crown. JSZ’s Nery Rodriguez has the highlights: Sponsor! Thank you to Princeton Orthopaedic Associates for sponsoring both our Hightstown and Steinert coverage!
Mariah Villanueva Wins North Jersey Game Ball!
McNair’s Mariah Villanueva took home the North Jersey Game Ball for her performance during the game against Hudson Catholic. She finished with 14 Ks. Check out her full ceremony right now: Take Our Poll
Emma Springstead Wins Central Jersey Game Ball!
Raritan’s Emma Springstead took home the Central Jersey Softball Game Ball for her GW 2-run HR during the game against Manasquan. Check out her full ceremony right now: Take Our Poll
Vote now for the final Game Balls of the spring sports season
Jersey Sports Zone thanks our loyal audience for voting all year long for JSZ Game Balls. We have the final 60 nominees in high school baseball and softball. We’ll keep our polls open through Tuesday at 3:00 pm and visit high school baseball and softball practices or games to present JSZ Game Balls to six more great recipients. Thanks to NJM Insurance for sponsoring JSZ’s South Jersey Game Balls South Jersey Game Ball Nominees presented by NJM Insurance Take Our Poll Take Our Poll North Jersey Game Ball Nominees Take Our Poll Take Our Poll Central Jersey Game Ball Nominees Take Our Poll Take Our Poll
Julie Davis Wins Central Jersey Game Ball!
South Plainfield’s Julie Davis took home the Central Jersey Game Ball for her performance during the game against Carteret. She finished with 4 RBIs and went 3-3. Check out her full ceremony online right now: Take Our Poll
Millville’s Ella Gamber Wins NJM Insurance Softball Game Ball
Ella Gamber of Millville earned the South Jersey Week Five Softball Game Ball for her performance against Atlantic City. The Thunderbolts freshman hit a home run, a double, and drove in four runs in Millville’s win over the Vikings. Check out Ella’s ceremony here: Take Our Poll South Jersey Game Balls are brought to you by NJM Insurance. Please submit nominations to email@example.com. Polls open over the weekend and close on Tuesday.
Mia Faieta Wins North Jersey Game Ball!
Cedar Grove’s Mia Faieta took home the North Jersey Game Ball for her performance during the game against Wayne Valley. The St. John’s commit finished with a No-Hitter and 19 Ks. Check out her full ceremony right now: Take Our Poll
Kaylee Whitaker of Steinert takes home NJM South Jersey Game Ball!
Getting one out is hard enough, but for Steinert’s Kaylee Whitaker it seemed like more of a common feeling as she retired 27 batters in a row. This week’s South Jersey Game Ball winner is no stranger to pressure; she helped lead the Spartans to a Tournament of Champions crown in 2018 and has been a driving force on the mound to their likely return to postseason play. In Steinert’s game against Ewing, Whitaker collected 12 strikeouts and allowed no hits or walks. The fans have spoken and the NJM Insurance South Jersey Game Ball will be heading to Hamilton. Watch her ceremony: Take Our Poll Sponsor! Thank you to NJM Insurance for sponsoring all of our South Jersey Game Ball presentations!
May Has Arrived! Which of These 60 Players Should Win a Spring Game Ball?
The Jersey Sports Zone team has scoured the state nominating the top players and performances from the diamond. Cast your vote now for our fifth edition of Game Balls of the 2019 spring sports season! We have ten nominees from baseball and softball in North, Central and South Jersey. Our polls stay open through Tuesday at 3:00 pm. The winners of our polls will receive a JSZ Game Ball at a mid-week practice or game. Coaches, players, and fans can nominate a player for a JSZ Game Ball by emailing us by Saturday night: North Jersey- Jay Cook (Jay@JerseySportsZone.com) South Jersey – Mike Frankel (MikeFrankel@JerseySportsZone.com) Central Jersey- Rich Chrampanis (Rich@JerseySportsZone.com) South Jersey Game Balls (Presented by NJM Insurance) Take Our Poll Take Our Poll North Jersey Game Balls Take Our Poll Take Our Poll Central Jersey Game Balls Take Our Poll Take Our Poll
Megan Hanily Wins North Jersey Game Ball!
North Hunterdon’s Megan Hanily took home the North Jersey Game Ball for her performance during the game against Phillipsburg. She went 2/5 and had 5 RBIs. Check out her full ceremony online right now:
Midd. North’s Malori Bell Gets 1K!
The heart of a lion? This girl has that and then some. Middletown North’s Malori Bell became the 20th player in New Jersey softball history to collect 1,000 career strikeouts Thursday afternoon. Although she only transferred in a season ago the Fairleigh Dickinson University commit has earned the admiration and support from the Middletown community. That’s largely due to her hard work ethic and loving personality. Needing just two K’s coming against Ocean Township, Bell accomplished her milestone in just the first inning. She would go on to finish her three hit shutout performance with 13 strikeouts total. JSZ’s Nery Rodriguez has the story:
Mamma Mia! Cedar Grove Ace Mia Faieta Joins Rare Company with Milestone Strikeout
It sure seems like Cedar Grove star pitcher Mia Faieta’s new favorite number is 19. Faieta completed a no-hitter while striking out a staggering 19 batters Wednesday against Wayne Valley to become the 19th softball player in New Jersey history to record 1,000 career strikeouts. The milestone also came on senior night, where the Cedar Grove community was on hand to recognize the future Essex County legend. Faieta has put together one of the most dominant high school careers in recent memory and she’s far from done. Check out these numbers just through her senior season alone: 91 innings, 215 strikeouts, only 10 hits allowed along with a measly three earned runs. Watch JSZ’s feature on Mia Faieta’s record-breaking day here: Faieta has proven to be a valuable senior presence for the Panthers, who sit at 14-2 on the season and look to get to Kean University in June to compete in the Group 1 state tournament. Her remarkable effort on the mound Wednesday vs. Wayne Valley was one of many memorable performances through her career. Two days earlier, Faieta notched 20 strikeouts in a shutout against Verona — and she also made national headlines in 2017 for completing a seven-inning perfect game by striking out all 21 batters faced. Watch all 19 strikeouts from Mia Faieta’s milestone day vs. Wayne Valley here: