Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 14
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
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After First-ever State Tournament Appearance; PHS Softball Bringing Confidence Into Spring

Bill Alden

For Princeton High softball head coach Craig Haywood, losing to Wall 12-0 last spring in the state tournament didn’t mark the end of a season but the beginning of something special.

While the program’s first-ever trip to the states was brief, it has translated into a deeper commitment to the game for the squad’s returning players.

“With the exception of the three seniors, everyone is back from last year’s team,” said Haywood, who guided the Little Tigers to an 8-17 mark last spring as the team tied the program record for single-season victories.

“A fair number of the girls played in the summer together. We had others who played summer recreation and travel ball. Some played fall ball and this winter, six of them were carpooling to Jack Cust for a program there.”

The team’s four captains, seniors Jenna Panconi and Emily Lidstone together with juniors Hannah Zink and Louise Eisenach, have set a serious tone on a daily basis.

“Our four captains are getting everybody well organized, making sure that everybody is at practice on time,” said Haywood, whose team opened its 2011 season by losing 11-5 to Notre Dame last Monday.

“They are vocal on the field. After practice, Louise handles the boot camp stuff, leading the girls through ab work, pushups, and core stuff.”

PHS is getting some good stuff from its pitching staff of freshman Jessica Campisi, sophomore Charlotte Gray, and Panconi.

“Right now, I would say all three of them are pitching pretty well,” said Haywood.

“It is nice having Campisi; of the three of them, she throws the hardest. Panconi has the best control and the most options; she throws the most pitches. Charlotte had some great games last year. She also has a pretty good bat so she gives us options.”

The Little Tigers have some good offensive options. “Angela Matcham was our designated hitter last year and she hasn’t missed a beat,” added Haywood.

“Marisa Gonzalez is a solid all-around player. She is a solid hitter; she is tough to strike out. Hannah Zink has improved at the plate. Louise will be a tablesetter; she is batting leadoff. She is tough to strike out; she gets in the batter’s box and really battles. Another nice surprise has been Hannah Gutierrez. She is also a solid hitter; she is learning to read pitchers. When she makes contact, she hits the ball solidly.”

The team’s defensive alignment appears to be solid. “The big key is to not make errors; just about everyone is back at the same position,” said Haywood.

“Maddie Cahill-Sanidas is a good catcher and we have Helen Eisenach backing her up. We can plug Gonzalez into any position and she plays well. Byrne Fahey is back at second with Louise at shortstop. Gutierrez has stepped in at third and she has no fear over there. We will have Lidstone in centerfield.”

The team’s success last spring has Haywood looking for a special 2011 campaign.

“The overall goal is to get back to the state tournament and not only get there but to advance,” said Haywood, whose team plays at Hopewell Valley on April 6 before hosting Allentown on April 8, Pennington on April 11, and Hightstown on April 12. “We also want to win our division.”

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