The cutoff for making the NJSIAA softball playoffs is today, and home-field advantage is coveted by every team that qualifies.
But having home turf, like sudden-found treasure, is not always what it seems. Therefore, Pennsville softball coach Herb Bacon is having second thoughts.
"I always thought that it [home field] was valuable, but after the last two years I have to question my thinking," said Bacon, who had his teams seeded No. 1 in Group 1 each of the last two seasons only to see both upset in first-round games. "[Still], we would relish the thought of home field again. Maybe three is a charm."
Seedings are based on overall records. Teams must have a .500 record to participate. In Group 1, Gloucester leads the pack and is the top seed. Pennsville (13-3) and Salem (11-4) follow.
Gloucester defeated Clayton, 8-1, yesterday to run its record to 17-2. However, the Lions also have had negative experiences at home.
Last year, Gloucester was the higher seed and lost to Salem in the first round. On Wednesday, the Lions were favored to beat Overbrook in a Tri-County Conference interdivisional game at home and lost, 1-0. Two games under .500, Overbrook was determined to stay alive. But yesterday, the Panthers lost to Gloucester Catholic, 4-3.
Before Overbrook took the field, Gloucester coach Dave Light spoke about how important home games are in providing an edge. After the game, Gloucester's Sam Dobleman echoed her coach's thoughts even though she was tagged with the loss.
"It's better to be at home because it's a big advantage," said the junior, whose record is 7-2.
Dobleman was relieved by sophomore Taylor Chain (7-0), who allowed a single and struck out five. Sophomore Jill Stafford (3-0) rounds out the pitching staff.
In addition to its triple threat in the circle, Gloucester has at least two good hitters in Dobleman and junior third-baseman Kelsey Cutler, each of whom reached the 100-career hits plateau within the last month.
Cutler, Dobleman and seniors Kelly Cerrone and Amanda Multanski were part of the Lions' last state championship team in 2005. Gloucester also won it all in 2000 and 2001.
"It was really beneficial because we know what it's like to be there and win and we have the desire to be there again," said Dobleman about winning a state title.
Pennsville has a game scheduled for today, hosting Williamstown at 4.