North, not public A
5-Pingry at 4-Papa Juan, Thursday, 4
Pope John has had an up-and-down year, but has bounced back nicely from their 2-7 start and they’re 11-3 since with wins over Montville, Sparta and Lodi Immaculate. Olivia Cilli has been one of the best rookie pitchers in the area, striking out 173 in 110 1/3 innings with a 1.97 ERA. Pingry has his own freshman in Ella Royster, who leads the team with five home runs. These two teams met in the North, NPA quarterfinals last year and Papa Juan won that game, 9-1. With some new faces for each side, it should make this an intriguing matchup once again. The winner of this game faces state qualifier Mount St. Dominic in the semifinals.
Choose: 4-Pope John
6-Hudson Catholic at 3-Oak Knoll, Wednesday the 4th
Oak Knoll is in the midst of one of its best seasons in more than a decade with 15 wins, the most since at least 2011. The Royals have a potent offense, with 221 runs scored in 22 games and are hitting .352 as a team. , led by the Flood sisters, Amelia and Abigail, who have a combined 67 hits and 57 RBI, as well as Abby Han, who has 31 hits, 12 RBI and 10 stolen bases. Hudson Catholic, meanwhile, has proven itself outside of Hudson County more often than not, so it will be interesting if that experience playing against top-tier teams comes to fruition now. Hudson Catholic has ace Naijah Classen back, and freshman Mia Botello has been impressive so far.
Choose: 3-Knoll Oak
7-Catholic Paramus in 2-Immaculate Heart
IHA has been the standard bearer in this section for the past few years along with Mount St. Dominic and this year should be no different. The Blue Eagles have one of the preeminent home run hitters in the state in Gabby Shadek, who has gone to the yard line 13 times and has driven in 39 runs. Shadek, along with Noelle Urbaniak, Gianna DiMeglio and Gianna Muliero have more than 30 hits. Paramus Catholic has reached new heights this year, reaching the 10-win mark for the first time in several seasons, thanks in part to Sabrina Amendola and Grace McGuire, who have been standouts this year.
Choose: 2-Immaculate Heart
North, not public B
8-Montclair Immaculate at 1-Morris Catholic, Thursday, 4
Morris Catholic is looking for its third consecutive Non-Public B title, and the Crusaders seem well-prepared for that to happen. There’s talent up and down the lineup and plenty of depth and versatility across the field. The Crusaders went from being a fringe Top-20 team to now solidly a Top-10 team with a Morris County title. Montclair Immaculate is 9-6 this year, the first time they’ve been above .500 since 2019.
Choose: 1-Catholic Morris
5-Gill St. Bernard’s at 4-DePaul, Thursday, 4:15
GSB beat DePaul, 10-9, last year in the section semifinals, but it’s been a bit of a down year for GSB, who currently sits under .500 on the season at 9-12. DePaul has been up and down this year, but they’re hitting .354 as a team and have 82 stolen bases with five different players in double figures and three players who have 30-plus hits, so they have a deep offense that can really make some noise.
6-Eastern Christian at 3-St. Sunday, Wednesday, 4:30
St. Dominic started the year 15-0 but is 1-4 since and has a sneaky matchup with Eastern Christian. Still, St. Dominic has a potent offense, scoring 265 runs, drawing 159 walks, stealing 87 bases and hitting .394, so they do a little bit of everything. Freshman Emily Matos has been one of Hudson County’s best with 38 RBIs, while Olivia Weber has 170 strikeouts in 95 innings. Eastern Christian lacks the pitching, but has strong hitters in Caroline Pringle, Alina Ellis and Gianna Angelucci.
Choose: 6-Eastern Christian
7-Roselle Catholic at 2-Lodi Immaculate, Thursday
Few teams in this postseason have more to play for than Lodi Immaculate, as the school will close at the end of the year. The seven-time state champions have had a solid year, with wins over Wallington, Wood-Ridge, Becton, Westwood and Bayonne. Gabriella Weiss has 117 strikeouts in 95 1/3 innings, while Jaylene Echeverry and Gabrielle Higgins each have 30 hits. Roselle Catholic’s Gabriella Meloni has 32 RBIs to pace the team, and the Lions look to upset.
Choose: 2-Lodi Immaculate
South, non-public A
9-OLMA in 1-Donovan Catholic
Donovan Catholic will attempt for a fourth consecutive Non-Public A title beginning with their first playoff game against Our Lady of Mercy Academy. The Griffins have certainly looked up to the task, the lone loss coming at Notre Dame in extra innings and following a 10-inning 4-3 victory over St. John Vianney in the Shore Conference final. OLMA hit the road to defeat Union Catholic, 3-1, behind Emma Douglas’ 16 strikeouts. Douglas could keep the Villagers going for a while against the Griffins, but finding offense against Julia Aposolakos will be a challenge. A team that has spent time over the years in Non-Public A and B, the Villagers would be a serious contender in Non-Public B, but they won’t be able to run the gauntlet of the NPA.
Pick: Donovan Catholic
5-Catholic Red Bank at 4-St. Thomas Aquinas
One of the best games of the quarterfinal round and one of the only contests between ranked teams, this should be to the delight of fans of pitching duels. St. Thomas Aquinas Hayley Wieczerzak and Red Bank Catholic’s Lily Hagan are among the best in the state. There may not be many trades, so the long ball could come into play and St. Thomas Aquinas’ Mary-Kate Murray is among the most proficient in the state at yardage.
Collection: Saint Thomas Aquinas.
6-Paul VI at 3-St. john vianney
The host Lancers are coming off their first loss of the season, a 10-inning 4-3 loss against Donovan Catholic in a thrilling Shore Conference final. Paul VI leadoff hitter Lisey St. Jean has been setting the pace for the state this year and has 55 hits, 44 runs scored, 21 stolen bases and a .714 average.
Collection: Saint John Vianney.
7-Immaculate in 2-Notre Dame
This has a chance to be one of the most intriguing quarterfinals in the state. Immaculata is the sixth ranked team in South Jersey Non-Public A and has wins over Mount St. Dominic, North Hunterdon and Hunterdon Central. Immaculata’s Caroline Colitti and Notre Dame’s Rylee Michalak have combined for 433 strikeouts.
Choice: Notre Dame
South, not public B
9-Rutgers Prep at 1-St. Jose (Hamm.)
The Wildcats will open the title defense they have won the last three seasons. They are coming off a 1-0 win over Tournament of Champions winner Haddon Heights in their latest tune-up. Ava Fisher has nine home runs at the plate and 215 strikeouts. Rutgers Prep is led by freshman Cali McCoy, who is hitting .470.
Collection: San José (Hamm.).
5-Doane Academy in 4-Espiritu Santo
Holy Spirit broke through this year and won the Cape-Atlantic League United Division title. It is led by young pitchers Mary Kate Armstrong and Gabi Jones. Doane, who shared the Burlington County Scholastic League Liberty Division title, has an impressive freshman in Brielle Perry, who is hitting .474 with 12 extra-base hits.
Choose: Holy Spirit
11-Wildwood Catholic at 3-Gloucester Catholic
Wildwood Catholic pulled off a stunning mercy rule victory over sixth seed Holy Cross, 11-1. Julia Wallace went 4-for-4 with three runs scored in the game, while Rebecca Cessman went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBIs. It’s been an up-and-down year for Gloucester Catholic, but they have a balanced offense and an experienced senior pitcher in Adrianna Green who has the ability to be dominant.
Pick: Gloucester Catholic
10-Timothy Christian at 2-Wardlaw-Hartridge
Timothy Christian outslugged Calvary Christian, 9-7, for his fifth straight win after a 2-10 start to the season. Holly Medina led the offensive explosion. Wardlaw-Hartridge, who was winless in 2019, finished this season 17-6. Sarah Alves is a threat at the plate and in the circle.
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Jake Aferiat covers Big North, GMC, HCIAL, NJAC, NJIC, SEC, Skyland, and UCC. He can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Jake_Aferiat.