Vineland softball loses close game in state softball final to Watchung Hills (2024)

Patrick Mulranen

EAST ORANGE — Natalia Ponce got some big hits Friday.

The junior was proud of how she and her Vineland High School softball teammates played.

Watchung Hills scored five runs in the second inning en route to a 6-4 victory over the Fighting Clan in the state Group IV final at Ivy Hill Park on the campus of Seton Hall University.

The Fighting Clan (26-3) are ranked No. 4 in The Press Elite 11. Watchung Hills (28-3) won the state championship in 2022, defeating Egg Harbor Township on a walkoff home run.

On Friday, Ponce went 2 for 3, including a double, scored one run and drove in another.

“Honestly, it’s not really tough,” she said. “We played a really good game. It just sucks, obviously, we lost, but we are going to come back next year. We are coming for it next year.”

People are also reading…

Vineland defeated EHT to capture the South Jersey Group IV title, its first sectional championship since 2018. The Fighting Clan earned a decisive 16-5 win over Marlboro in the state semifinals Tuesday.

Vineland’s only two losses this season were against EHT in the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament semifinals and to St. Joseph Academy in the fifth game of the season.

“Some things went (Watchung Hills’ way). Obviously, one thing isn’t going to dictate a whole game,” senior Morgan Harrell-Alvarez said. “Some plays could’ve been made, but that’s all right. That’s what they will work on next year. That’s completely fine. They will get back to this point, and then they will be on the other side.”

Harrell-Alvarez singled to start the game, and her twin, Megan, singled her in to give the Fighting Clan an early 1-0 lead. Ponce doubled and scored on an error in the top of the second inning to extend the lead to 2-0. Morgan Harrell-Alvarez finished with one run and an RBI.

In the bottom of the second, Watchung Hills took a 5-2 lead. Madilyn Cerami’s two-double highlighted the rally. Morgan Bobrowski, Tia Shikar and Madison DiSarno each hit RBI singles.

“It was hard because when you have an inning like that where there was only one hard hit ball and everything else was kind of dinks and donks, you can’t do anything about that,” Vineland coach Mike Reed said. “My pitchers were making pitches. They were showing the team they are to be able to hit those pitches.”

But Vineland never stopped fighting.

In the third, Ponce singled in Leah Mears, who tripled, to cut the Fighting Clan’s deficit to 5-3. In the bottom half, DiSarno doubled and scored to extend Watchung Hills’ lead to 6-3.

“We are definitely a team of underdogs,” Ponce said. “We want to fight until the end.”

In the fifth, Vineland’s Gyanna Porreca hit an RBI single to cap the scoring. Starting pitcher Brooklyn Lopez struck out one and allowed seven hits in 2 1/3 innings. Kashvi Patel struck out three in 3 2/3 shutout innings of relief. She gave up just two hits.

“Everyone doubted us,” Morgan Harrell-Alvarez said. “No one expected us to be in the finals. We put up four runs against a good team.”

Reed agreed.

“When you think about it, no one thought we would be here in this situation, at this place and at this time of year,” he said. “So, I am just super proud of these girls. They fought all season long. Proved a lot of doubters wrong. They just went out and performed for them.”

Vineland graduates some very talented players who made major contributions this season, such as the Harrell-Alvarez twins and Porreca. But the Fighting Clan will return most of their lineup, including Ponce, Patel, Lopez, Franki Celebre, Luci Day, Mears and Averie Gomez.

“Knowing that you have a talented core (returning), and I was grateful coming in with the freshman class I had two years ago who are all juniors now, or rising seniors, so the talent is there,” Reed said. “I think they showed that through the course of this year.”

Added Ponce, “It’ll be a fun year next year when I am a senior, and I am hoping we get back to this spot next year.”

Morgan Harrell-Alvarez is committed to Morgan State University. Despite her senior season not ending the way she wanted Friday, she is grateful for the memories created this spring.

“It was good. It was good,” she said. “Obviously, everyone doubted us. I just wanted to show them they were wrong. We had really good supporters at our house. We knew they are going to be waiting for us regardless of the outcome.”


Vineland softball loses close game in state softball final to Watchung Hills (1)

Contact Patrick Mulranen: 609-272-7217

Twitter @ACPressMulranen


'); var s = document.createElement('script'); s.setAttribute('src', ''); document.body.appendChild(s); window.removeEventListener('scroll', throttledRevContent); __tnt.log('Load Rev Content'); } } }, 100); window.addEventListener('scroll', throttledRevContent); }

Get in the game with our Prep Sports Newsletter

Sent weekly directly to your inbox!

Patrick Mulranen

  • Author email
Vineland softball loses close game in state softball final to Watchung Hills (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Horacio Brakus JD

Last Updated:

Views: 5527

Rating: 4 / 5 (71 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Horacio Brakus JD

Birthday: 1999-08-21

Address: Apt. 524 43384 Minnie Prairie, South Edda, MA 62804

Phone: +5931039998219

Job: Sales Strategist

Hobby: Sculling, Kitesurfing, Orienteering, Painting, Computer programming, Creative writing, Scuba diving

Introduction: My name is Horacio Brakus JD, I am a lively, splendid, jolly, vivacious, vast, cheerful, agreeable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.