HAMMONTON—A three-run first inning rally sparked Egg Harbor Twp. (EHT) to a 6-3 win against Hammonton last week in a key Cape Atlantic League (CAL) softball game.
The victory allowed EHT to take over sole possession of first place in the CAL American Division and clinch a berth in the league playoffs, which began last week.
In the first, EHT scored three times, taking advantage of three Hammonton errors.
The Blue Devils began to chip away at that lead in the second, when Gracie Ravenkamp walked and scored on a single from Victoria Esau.
EHT added a run in the third, but Riley Lancaster doubled and scored on Ava Divello’s single in the bottom of the inning to cut the deficit to 4-2.
The game stayed that way until the seventh, when back-to-back singles led to two runs for the Eagles and a 6-2 lead.
Hammonton tried to fight back in the last half of the seventh, but managed just one run, an RBI single from Alexa Panagopoylos that drove in Sophia Vento.
“Against a team like EHT, you have to take care of the ball and we didn’t do that today,” Hammonton coach Eric Shulman said.
“We gave them some freebies and we dug ourselves into a hole,” he said.
Shulman also placed some blame on the game being played after prom weekend and Mother’s Day for Hammonton.
“It’s always tough coming off prom weekend. We debate it every year, whether or not to practice, but with Mother’s Day being Sunday, it was tough because we always preach family first,” Shulman said.
The distractions aside, Hammonton didn’t play its best in the loss.
“We told the kids after the game that we need to give ourselves a chance to win and even though we had some opportunities, we didn’t hit when we needed to and I know we’d feel a lot better if we had caught the ball today,” Shulman said.
Hammonton was able to bounce back from the loss and blank Our Lady of Mercy Academy (OLMA) 10-0 later in the week.
Divello doubled and drove in a run in the win, while Vento and Lancaster each scored twice.
April Lewandowski earned the win, tossing a one-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts.
The split last week left the Blue Devils with a 15-7 record. The Blue Devils failed to earn a berth in the CAL playoffs, but are focused on the South Jersey Group 3 tournament, which began earlier this week. The Blue Devils are the defending sectional champions.
“We weren’t sure if it would be good or bad to make the CAL playoffs. Right now, we’re concentrating on the state playoffs. We know we have a big target on our backs this year, but we’re ready for it,” Shulman said.
Hammonton opened the playoffs against Pemberton earlier this week, but results were too late for this edition. The winner of that game will face the winner of Mainland and Pinelands later this week. On May 20, Hammonton is scheduled to host Ocean City at Hammonton Lake Park at 4 p.m. as part of the Fight Like Frankie Classic.