The Johnson softball team added to its first Union County Tournament championship since 1981 and outright Union County Conference-Watchung Division title by capturing its first sectional crown since 1996.
The third-seeded Crusaders defeated eighth-seeded Voorhees 6-2 in the June 2 Central Jersey, Group 2 championship game played at Johnson High School in Clark.
Johnson, guided by head coach Mike Mancino, won CJ, G2 for the first time. The Crusaders last captured a sectional title in 1996 when they repeated as North 2, Group 2 champions. Johnson won back-to-back N2, G2 championships under present Governor Livingston assistant coach Steve Petruzzelli in 1995 and 1996 and in both of those years reached the Group 2 state championship games played in Toms River.
The group finals used to be played in Toms River before being moved to Kean University.
Winning pitcher Gianna Randazza helped her own cause by blasting a three-run homer. The junior right hander allowed two runs on eight hits, while striking out six and walking five.
Johnson tied the game at 2-2 with a single run in the bottom of the fifth.
Johnson junior shortstop Shannon Brogan provided the game-winning hit, an RBI-single in the bottom of the sixth that put the Crusaders ahead for good at 3-2.
Randazza followed with her three-run homer for three huge insurance runs.
Johnson improved to 23-8 after winning its fourth straight. The Crusaders have won seven of their last eight.
Johnson outscored its four CJ, G2 foes by a 23-6 margin. The first win was at home against 14th-seeded Monmouth 11-1 and the second victory was at home against sixth-seeded Raritan 2-1. The third win was at second-seeded Bordentown 4-2.
Johnson will next face South Jersey, Group 2 champion West Deptford in the June 7 Group 2 semifinal at Rowan University. Game time is set for 4 p.m.
West Deptford also won its first sectional title in 20 years on Thursday as the top-seeded Eagles thwarted second-seeded Sterling 4-1 at home in the South Jersey, Group 2 championship game. West Deptford, which defeated Sterling three times in three tries this season, improved to 21-2 with its fifth straight victory.
The winner of the Johnson-West Deptford clash will advance to the Group 2 state championship game. The state finals are scheduled to be played at Kean University’s Cougar Field in Union on Friday, June 10 – three games at 3, 5 and 7 – and Saturday, June 11 – three games at 11, 1 and 3.
2016 CENTRAL JERSEY, GROUP 2 SOFTBALL
SEEDS: 1-Robbinsville. 2-Bordentown. 3-Johnson. 4-Spotswood.
5-Governor Livingston. 6-Raritan.7-Delaware Valley. 8-Voorhees.
9-Manasquan. 10-Bernards. 11-Metuchen. 12-Lincoln.
13-East Brunswick Tech. 14-Monmouth. 15-Holmdel. 16-New Providence.
Robbinsville 10, New Providence 0
Voorhees 5, Manasquan 0
Governor Livingston 17, Lincoln 0
Spotswood 9, East Brunswick Tech 3
Johnson 11, Monmouth 1
Raritan 8, Metuchen 3
Delaware Valley 2, Bernards 1
Bordentown 4, Holmdel 0
Voorhees 3, Robbinsville 0
Governor Livingston 16, Spotswood 0
Johnson 2, Raritan 1
Bordentown 2, Delaware Valley 0
Voorhees 4, Governor Livingston 3
Johnson 4, Bordentown 2
Johnson 6, Voorhees 2