High School Softball (Group 2 Finals):
Saturday, June 6, 1998
By Art Redd
After all the games they have played during the regular season and the playoffs, it came down to two teams. The Kingsway Dragons and Mahwah Thunderbirds knew what was at stake when they travelled to Toms River North High School. Both teams were trying to capture their first state title. Each team had to win five consecutive playoff games to get to the NJSIAA finals. The Dragons would get that title by jumping out to an early lead and capture the State Group 2 championship by defeating the Thunderbirds 4-0. Wendi Miller would keep the Mahwah batters off balance with her pitching and strike out 14 batters. The Dragons had given up a total of only two runs during their journey through the playoffs to the championship game while scoring thirty-five.
Coach Andy McFadden knew how well his team liked to jump out to an early lead. So he would take advantage of any opportunity if a player got on base early on. Allison Barchuk got a base hit with one out in the first inning. She would be advanced into scoring position on a fielders choice. Marsha Kelley would plate the first run of the game with a single. They were not done yet.
With two runners now in scoring position, pitcher Wendi Miller would help herself by getting a base hit and taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Coach McFadden would get that early lead and hope Miller would come through on her end. Mahwah would get a scoring opportunity in the third inning with one out and a player on second base. But Miller would strikeout not only the next two batters, but also strike out the side in the fourth inning. If a batter did get the ball in play, the defense would be right there behind their pitcher to record the out.
Only one other run would be scored in the game in the top of the sixth inning and that would be by the Dragons. The young Kingsway team could now be added to the list of state champions for the state of New Jersey. They would finish the season with an impressive 21-7 record.
©1998 South Jersey Sports Online