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Hard work pays off for senior quintet

The Pennsville group celebrates a state championship.

The Pennsville softball team's starting senior five concluded a four-year journey Saturday by achieving the ultimate: They became champions.

Dawn Curry, Ashley Minch, Katie Gaskill, Megan Knott and Kristin Garvin all scored in a 9-2 win over High Tech for the NJSIAA Group 1 crown at Toms River North.

The Eagles (21-4) played with such confidence and skill behind junior pitcher Rachel Coleman that they made the victory over the North 2 champions look easy.

All true champions have a way of making a big victory look easy. And that's what the senior five did in guiding the team to its first state Group 1 crown since 2002.

Assistant coach Whitney Davis was a member of Pennsville's last championship softball team, and she gave the Eagles some advice before the big game.

"I told them to stay together, have a good time, and let their skills take over," Davis said. "When you have seniors who started as freshmen winning the title, that makes it even sweeter."

Curry, the most celebrated athlete on the team and one of the best shortstops in the area, finished her scholastic career with 121 hits. Add that to 113 goals and 97 assists in soccer and 1,288 points in basketball, and it's easy to see why her name is well known in South Jersey sports circles.

This season Curry's batting average was .355. She had an on-base percentage of .490 with 21 walks, 27 hits, and 30 runs scored.

"For our seniors, this was the year to do something," Curry said after the win. "It's hard to believe that we're here. We stuck together."

Curry will play soccer on a scholarship at Holy Family University in the fall.

Minch, a catcher whose strong arm and accurate throws kept most baserunners honest this season, ended her career as the most prolific hitter in school history, finishing with 141 career hits. She surpassed Amy Cooker, who reached 134 in 2002, and will attend Rowan on a scholarship to play softball.

This season, Minch batted .430 with an on-base percentage of .511 and 25 RBIs.

"We played together four years. It had to end sometime, and I'm glad it ended this way," Minch said.

Gaskill became the fifth member of the starting seniors to reach 100 career hits when she smashed an RBI double in the second inning against High Tech. The first baseman finished the season with a .402 batting average and 30 RBIs. She'll attend Rutgers on a scholarship to play softball.

"The weight is off our shoulders now," Gaskill said. "We wanted this for four years."

Garvin and Knott also will play softball on college scholarships. Garvin, a second baseman, finished the season batting .250 and will attend Wilmington University. Knott, a centerfielder, hit .291 and will go to Gloucester County College.

"I've known all of them [the seniors] since T-ball," Garvin said. "It's a wonderful feeling to accomplish something huge with them."

Knott added, "We've been playing together since Little League. It feels amazing to win the title."