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South Jersey Softball:
Szul's/Stonhard Wins Medford League Men's Softball Championship

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

By Bob Campanella
SJSports Special Correspondent

When a softball team can come up with key hits, that team will usually win many games. Szul's/Stonhard not only came through with some big hits throughout the season, they also captured the Lenape Men's Softball League regular season Cherokee Division title with a league's best 23-4 record. The hits kept coming in the playoffs with an impressive 7-0 run through the brackets to claim the 2001 League Championship.

When most of us think of sports, the first thing we think of is the outcome. What was the score? Who scored the winning run, touchdown or goal? Not many ask how good was their defense. Well, as evident with the Baltimore Ravens Super win last year in the Super Bowl, we see that "Defense Wins Championships"! This concept doesn't just apply to football, but even in men's softball, where score and offense is ramped, defense can win championships. A solid offense, superb pitching, and excellent team chemistry doesn't hurt, either. The Szul's/Stonhard team exhibited all of these characteristics in a steady drive to the championship of the Lenape Men's Softball League. Szul's capped a league-best and Cherokee Division winning 23-4 regular season with an undefeated 7-0 run through the playoffs.

"Defense won us big games", touted pitcher Brian Szul, whose excellent pitch control and solid defense up the middle shut down rally before they even started. "I pitch to batters without worry that they will find our weak spot, since we don't have one", states Szul. "Our team is the best defensive team in the league and it shows", says Dave Benson, a member of the Szul's/Stonhard team. And it did show in the playoffs, as the Szul's/Stonhard team held their opponents to a combined total of 43 runs!!

During the regular season, the team was led offensively by the hitting of Dave Cernava (21 HRs and .679 average), along with Doug Kelly, Al Niemela, Art Redd, Mark McGonigle and Tim Bourch. On the defensive side, Brian Szul's anchored the team from the pitcher's spot, vacuuming up any hits that came his way. He was supported by the strong gloves of shortstop Jeff Beam, second baseman Rob Riegert and utility man Nick Carroll.

Szul's/Stonhard also played well out of league as they finished second in the Major E division of the annual Trentonian tournament held in Mercer County, NJ.

Photos by Mark George

©2001 South Jersey Sports Online