Union County Conference softball champs wrap up winning season

UNION COUNTY, NJ — The 2022 high school softball season in Union County saw a number of teams come into their own.

While none really excelled in state tournament play, Cranford and Elizabeth high schools went the furthest, both falling in sectional semifinal round action.

Even though Cranford didn’t repeat as North 2, Group 3, sectional state champions, the Cougars did do something last year’s 24-6 squad did not. They won the Union County Conference’s Watchung Division title outright and did so with a 7-1 league record.

David Brearley High School, the only team to score on eventual Union County Tournament champion Cranford in the UCT when junior Colleen Hannon slugged a solo home run over the left field fence in the top of the seventh of its 3-1 quarterfinal round loss at Adams Avenue Field in Cranford, captured the UCC’s Mountain Division title outright at 6-1. The Bears finished 11-8 overall.

Capturing the UCC’s Valley Division championship was Scotch Plains–Fanwood High School at 7-0. The Raiders came in at 16-9 overall.

There were co-champions in the Sky Division, with Linden High School and Kent Place School sharing the crown after both posting 7-1 division marks. They split with each other, both winning at home. On Monday, April 18, at Linden, the host Tigers prevailed in a 14-11 slugfest. Then, on Wednesday, May 25, Kent Place defeated Linden 7-1 at its home field in Summit.

Kent Place finished 9-9 overall and Linden 8-10.

Cranford, which also led Union County in wins with 20 and finished 20-6 overall, was sparked by the play of junior pitcher Avery Toddings, the right-hander still with a season to go. Sophomore Sophia DeMarco led the Cougars in four offensive categories, including hits with 46, runs with 31, home runs with 10 and RBIs with 35.

Cranford’s season and an eight-game winning streak came to a close when the top-seeded Cougars fell at home to fourth-seeded West Morris, 2-1, in last week’s North 2, Group 3, semifinals. Last year in the same round, Cranford defeated West Morris, 5-0, at home.

While Toddings finished with 116 strikeouts for Cranford, Hannon produced 85 for the Bears. She was not only a good pitcher for David Brearley, but also a major threat at the plate.

Offensively for David Brearley, senior Brianna Bowles led the team in hits with 26, home runs with two and RBIs with 16. Francesca Licata, a sophomore, was the team leader in runs with 24.

Sophia Lerner, one of Union County’s top seniors, had an outstanding season for the Raiders. She paced Scotch Plains–Fanwood in hits with 32, runs with 31 and home runs with two.
Another one of Union County’s fine seniors was Linden’s Allisson Pena-Tavares. She paced the Tigers in hits with 19, runs with 23, home runs with two and RBIs with 14. Sophomore pitcher Molly McDonald fashioned a total of 129 strikeouts.

Among Kent Place’s top performers this season were senior outfielder Allie Sussman, junior catcher Kay Lyon and sophomore pitcher Cassie Miller.

2022 Union County Conference softball division champions:
Watchung: Cranford Cougars (7-1)
Mountain: Brearley Bears (6-1)
Valley: Scotch Plains–Fanwood (7-0)
Sky: Linden (7-1), Kent Place (7-1)