A few weeks back, I had written a column on Immaculate Heart Academy (IHA) softball coach Anthony Larezza.
Anyway, behind the fun stuff, including the now famous Memorial Day speech of 2010 and a true respect for legendary MLB umpire Nestor Chylak, is a coach who is very close to a milestone which, especially today, isn’t easy to attain.
If IHA defeats St. John Vianney for the NJSIAA, Non-Public A championship this weekend in Toms River, it will have won a third state crown in the last four years and, most assuredly, finish as the consensus No. 1 team in New Jersey for the second straight year and third time since 2009. (It has also lost a grand total of one game since the end of the 2011 season, and that was a 1-0 setback this spring).
In a time where good softball players are more prominent because of summer ball, showcases and outstanding conditioning regimens, great programs are harder to maintain. And, of course, there’s graduation every year which, even if its minimal, changes the landscape of a program.
So, as IHA prepares for a run to history this weekend (depending on the weather, the games could be Saturday, or Sunday), the Blue Eagles, with their marvelous ‘Affirmed’ pitcher, incredible defense and timely hitters, will be a riveting team to watch compete.
They are truly a great program, led by a tremendous young coach.