Williamstown, the defending Group 4 state softball champion, will have perhaps its biggest test of the season today at 4 p.m. against visiting Toms River East in the South Jersey final.
Second-seeded East crushed third-seeded Cherokee, 8-0, in a semifinal game Wednesday. East beat the Chiefs' top pitcher, Christine Watson, who led them to a 19-2 record and a No. 3 ranking in South Jersey by The Inquirer.
East's ace is Lyndsey PeQueen, who tossed a five-hitter against Cherokee. Her record is 26-1.
The top-seeded Braves (19-2) have lost to Kingsway and Gloucester, teams with strong pitching and defense.
Williamstown, ranked No. 1 by The Inquirer, has Katie Trotter in the circle. The senior is one of the best players in the area because she is not only an effective pitcher but also a good fielder and hitter.
Almost everyone from last year's championship team is back, so the Braves have big-game experience.
Delsea makes final. There have been a number of surprises in South Jersey Group 3.
Cumberland (14-7) was seeded No. 1. Then Kingsway, the defending state champion, failed to advance to today's final. And Central Regional, which eliminated Kingsway, 4-1, in the semifinals, will host Delsea, a sleeper, for the sectional title at 2 p.m. today.
Delsea (18-6), seeded fifth, defeated fourth-seeded Hammonton, 7-4, and Cumberland, 4-3, to advance.
Central Regional, the second seed, crushed seventh-seeded Burlington County Institute of Technology, 15-2, and beat third-seeded Kingsway to make the final.
Delsea has a solid pitcher and hitter in senior Allison Pfrommer, whose record is 13-5 and batting average is about .400.
The Crusaders also have .400-plus hitters in senior Lauren O'Rourke and sophomore Kristen Knorr. Junior Jessica Zellman's batting average is in the .500s.
Overbrook and GCIT. Overbrook, the top seed in South Jersey Group 2, is scheduled to host third-seeded Gloucester County Institute of Technology at 3:30 p.m. today in the sectional final.
Overbrook drew a bye in round one, then beat fourth-seeded Buena, 1-0, to advance to the championship game.
GCIT walloped sixth-seeded Willingboro, 17-0, in the first round and slipped by second-seeded Sterling, 1-0, in round two.
Overbrook (22-3) is led by pitcher Jen Metzger, whose record is 12-0. The junior has shared the circle with Samantha Borelli (10-3) because she has been working her way back from a shoulder injury that sidelined her throughout her sophomore year.
Metzger struck out 24 in a 1-0 win over West Deptford in 12 innings on April 29. Her batting average is better than .300.
GCIT (15-4) also has a top-flight pitcher in Krysti Maronski. The junior boosted her record to 15-3 Wednesday when she yielded three hits in 10 innings against Sterling. Her batting average is about .450.
Group 1. Top-seeded Gloucester, which has had a fabulous season with Taylor Chain in the circle, is set to host Pitman, the third seed, at 4 p.m. today for the South Jersey Group 1 trophy.
Gloucester (26-1) suffered its only loss of the season against Gloucester Catholic, 1-0, on May 16. Chain struck out 11 and gave up two hits in that game despite pain in her throwing shoulder that had sidelined her for more than a week.
Chain, a senior, has thrown four perfect games this season. She will go against Pitman senior Kaitlyn McIlvaine.
Pitman (14-8) drew a bye in the first round, then beat Woodbury, 8-3, in the quarterfinals and Maple Shade, 10-5, in the semifinals.
Gloucester started with a bye before defeating Penns Grove, 4-2, and Pennsville, 1-0.
Pitman overcame a 4-0 deficit to beat Maple Shade. Coach Mike Yeager said that wasn't the first time the Panthers had come from behind to win this season.
What an upset. Florence, the 12th seed in Central Jersey Group 1, defeated top-seeded Roselle Park, 13-4, in a semifinal game Wednesday to advance to the sectional championship game against sixth-seeded New Egypt, the host, at 4 p.m. today.
The Inquirer TOP 10
Records are through Wednesday.
Last week's rankings in parentheses.
1. Williamstown (2) 19-2
2. Kingsway (1) 19-4
3. Cherokee (3) 19-2
4. Gloucester (6) 26-1
5. Overbrook (NR) 22-3
6. GCIT (4) 15-4
7. Vineland (7) 19-4
8. Sacred Heart (NR) 24-6
9. St. Joseph (NR) 18-4
10. Delsea (NR) 18-6
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Camden Catholic (16-5), Gloucester Catholic (19-6), Hammonton (17-5), Holy Cross (16-8), Sterling (18-6).
- Bill Iezzi