At first glance, a 12-12 season might not be a memorable season for a storied softball program like DePaul High. But as head coach Sue Parler has often said, each season has a different dynamic and this year’s team certainly stepped up in a big situation, by winning a record seventh straight Passaic County Tournament championship, defeating Passaic Valley in a 3-2 thriller in early May.
“It was a see-saw season,” said Parler. “We won some some tough ones and lost some head-scratchers. I always tell the players that when you wear the crown, you wear the target — embrace both. At no time was this more evident than this year. Every team played a very good game against us.”
Earning first team, All-Conference accolades for the Spartans in 2018 were Summer Ramundo, Dominique Coiro and Laila Aponte. Second team honors went to Kaitlin Cavanagh and Gianna DiPiano while Honorable Mention was afforded to Nicole D’Ambrosia and Abby Zampese.
The Passaic County Coaches named Ramundo, Coiro and Cavanagh to its first team, Aponte to the second team and DiPiano and D’Ambrosia as Honorable Mention.
The Spartans put together a wonderful event this spring, in “Play for the Cure”, a game honoring the memory of Dominque Coiro’s mother, Josephine. DePaul edged Clifton in the emotionally charged contest, 10-9, on May 7. Proceeds from the game were earmarked for cancer research.
“It’s an event we plan to continue — in fact, I have a parent who is willing to take ownership of it next year,” said Parler.
Parler noted that the Spartans bade farewell to seven seniors. Coiro, Cavanagh and Ramundo were four-year letter winners. The other seniors are D’Ambrosia, Zampese, Bianca Muscato, and Kelly Nilssen. “They all will be missed,” said Parler.
Among the highlights were Coiro picking up her 100th hit on May 3 and Ramundo recording her 500th strikeout, on May 23.
“Remember that Ramundo pitched in a tandem for three years prior to this one,” said Parler. “Cavanagh finally made first team All-Passaic County as a senior. She was a blood-and-guts kid from day one. As a freshman, Kaitlin came in as a shortstop, but we had Danielle Trongone ahead of her. Kaitlin move to second base and when Trongone graduated, Kate moved back to short. As a senior, we needed her at third — someone quick and fearless for bunt coverage — so we moved her. Never a complaint — I believe there was one game she played all three spots. She was tough as nails, no matter where she played.”
The coach is optimistic for 2019.
“There are some big shoes to fill in graduating seven seniors, but our core-four freshmen (Aponte, Alexa Borino, Katelyn Heaney, and Catherine Serek) are primed and ready,” said Parler. “Aponte has already stepped up at short, Borino and Heaney will fill in the outfield around Madison Peterson. And Serek will fill in behind the dish.”
Upperclassmen in 2019 will also be key.
“Gianna DiPiano and Alexa Juchniewicz, our two returning juniors, stepped up in big spots during the county tournament run, and we expect even bigger things from them next year,” said Parler. “Madison Peterson, coming off her broken toe, played a big role defensively, but couldn’t bat for the last third of the season due to the injury. She had been our number five batter. Those three returners and the freshmen give us a good nucleus with which to work.”
Parler is already thinking toward 2019, while also thanking some very valuable seniors who were a big part of four straight county championship teams.