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Sam Carchidi | It could be a lean year for state softball titles

Along the South Jersey scholastic sports beat, there are always questions, questions, questions. Which area softball teams have the best chance to bring home NJSIAA sectional titles?

Along the South Jersey scholastic sports beat, there are always questions, questions, questions.

Which area softball teams have the best chance to bring home NJSIAA sectional titles?

St. Joseph of Hammonton in Non-Public B and Gloucester in Group 1. Sterling and Haddon Township look like the favorites in Group 2.

It wouldn't be surprising if the other three sections were won by teams from outside the seven-county region: Toms River East in Group 4, Central Regional (Bayville) in Group 3 and Notre Dame in Non-Public A, though Lenape and Washington Township (both in Group 4) and Kingsway (Group 3) will also be in the hunt.

This doesn't look like a year when South Jersey teams will bring home many state softball championships.

Whatever happened to Shawnee junior Quinton Miller, who was expected to be one of South Jersey's best baseball pitchers this year?

Miller hasn't been on the mound since April 7 because of a shoulder injury.

"Right now, it's not likely that he'll pitch again this year," Shawnee coach Brian Anderson said. "There's no question he makes us a better team when he's out there."

Miller went 7-2 as a sophomore but was sidelined by shoulder problems after pitching in two games early this season. The injury has also prevented him from playing shortstop, and he has been used primarily as a designated hitter.

Shawnee is fighting to gain a spot in the Group 3 tourney.

What's the latest in the recruiting battle for Shawnee's Julian Sanders, the Inquirer's South Jersey boys' basketball player of the year?

Sanders says he is still undecided. Richmond and Morehead State are the leading contenders, but Sanders said he might not make his selection until playing numerous AAU games this summer.

"I'm still waiting to get some better looks before I commit," he said the other night. "I may be able to get something better and I don't want to make the wrong decision."

Sanders said Richmond and Morehead State said they will hold scholarships for him until the end of the summer.

What's the feel-good story of the week?

The diligent behind-the-scenes work put forth by Joe Hartmann, director of the Diamond Classic, and his staff.

Not only is the Diamond Classic, which starts Saturday and brings together 16 elite baseball teams, a one-of-a-kind tourney for boys' sports, but it also generates revenue for a worthy cause - the Walter Reed Society, which uses the funds for injured members of the Armed Forces.

The Classic has raised $5,000 over the last two years.

The Classic's opening round will be held at four sites Saturday: Deptford, Overbrook, Washington Township and Maple Shade.

The best matchup appears to be at Washington Township, where Buena, No. 2 in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings, faces No. 4 Bishop Eustace at 1 p.m. In the 10:30 a.m. opener, No. 1 Cherokee will meet Delsea.

Speedup rules, which should be used throughout the season, will apply for the entire tourney.

Shykem Lawrence, the Woodrow Wilson senior who was paralyzed in a football scrimmage on Aug. 25, returned Tuesday night from a one-day trip to Walt Disney World, courtesy of the Sunshine Foundation.

"I loved it. It was my first time there and my first time on a plane," said Lawrence, 18, who went on the trip with his sister, Shyquana. "I got lots of souvenirs and went on rides for handicapped people."

Lawrence, who must use a wheelchair and was hospitalized briefly last week with pneumonia, plans to attend the May 25 prom and to be one of the speakers at his June 22 high school graduation. He is being tutored at his Camden home.

In another matter, Lawrence said he "wasn't sure" whether he will pursue legal action to recover damages for his injury. Last month, a step was taken by his attorney to clear the way to file a $10 million lawsuit. A 90-day notice letter was sent to 18 potential defendants.

Since then, Lawrence said, he has fired Ron Gilbert, the lawyer who was representing him.