For the Princeton High softball team, 10 was the magic number this spring.
After having tied the program single-season record for victories with nine wins in 2012, PHS had its sights set firmly on breaking into double figures.
Last week, the Little Tigers achieved their goal, topping Lawrence 4-3 in extra innings on May 6, exemplifying the scrappiness that has fueled their improvement.
Although PHS managed seven hits, the team came through in the clutch in pulling out the win that lifted it to 10-8.
“We struck out 19 times, you don’t usually win when that happens,” said PHS head coach Dave Boehm.
“We know we don’t have a heavy hitting team. We have to make some bunts and execute. We used the international rules in extra innings. We had Charlotte Heller at second and bunted her home.”
Getting the breakthrough win was a proud moment for Boehm and his players.
“It was good to get the monkey off of our back,” said Boehm, who will be getting a mohawk haircut and dying his hair blue to honor a promise he made to the team if they hit the 10-win mark.
“The girls were disappointed last year when we didn’t get it. I have to say double digits looks nice; we have had some nice wins this year.”
PHS has been the beneficiary of some nice pitching from sophomore Sarah Eisenach all spring and she came up big against Lawrence with 17 strikeouts.
“Sarah had a good game,” said Boehm, who got another big mound effort from Eisenach on Monday as she struck out four and gave up four hits to help the seventh-seeded Little Tigers top No. 10 Hightstown 7-4 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament and improve to 11-10. “She really came on; she kept the ball down.”
Led by record-breaking hitter and Wisconsin-bound Marisa Gonzalez, the team’s group of seniors has come on strong in their final campaign.
“I think the seniors have really stepped up,” asserted Boehm, who will be looking for his team to step up when it plays second-seeded Steinert on May 14 at Armstrong Park in Ewing in the MCT quarterfinals with the winner advancing to the semis on May 15.
“Hannah Gutierrez has had a really good season. Heller has hit well. Maddie Cahill-Sanidas has had a monster year, hitting homers and batting well. She is a good athlete; she is one of the few three-sport athletes in the school.”
While PHS’s senior class, which also includes Helen Eisenach and Charlotte Gray, will leave a void, Boehm thinks the program can keep going for records.
“We also have some freshmen who have done well in Stephanie Wu and Kelli Swedish,” added Boehm.
“When I look at them I see the same thing I saw when I looked at the John Witherspoon team a few years ago and saw Marisa, Maddie, and all of them. It is a good group coming up; I hope they stick together like the seniors have.”