An annual event to honor the memory of a tremendous student-athlete at DePaul High will provide a wonderful addition in 2019.
DePaul softball coach Sue Parler is excited about the annual Kathleen Walsh Fundraiser, which is set for April 20, at DePaul’s home field.
“For the past 13 years, the DePaul Catholic softball team has humbly sponsored the Kathleen Walsh Classic — a game that involves the friends and family of Kathleen, the proceeds of which go to the Kathleen Walsh Scholarship Fund,” said Parler. “The scholarship is awarded to the graduating senior who best embodies the spirit of Kathleen as a student, athlete, and citizen.”
Kathleen Walsh, during her playing days at DePaul High. (Click on photo for larger image)
Walsh was a 2002 graduate of DePaul who died suddenly following a surgical procedure on Dec. 17, 2003. At the time, she was a student at the College of New Jersey.
“Kathleen was something special,” said Parler, who coached Walsh in softball in 2001 and 2002. “She was a huge Yankees fan and someone who loved life. She was so proactive at DePaul for school spirit and was a good athlete, as well.”
As far as the tournament, which honors Walsh’s memory, Parler wanted to amp it up a bit this year.
“For the past few years, we knew we wanted to do more,” said Parler. “For the 14th anniversary year, we have expanded the itinerary to include a new high school level tournament — The Greater Wayne Kathleen Walsh Classic. The tournament features the four Wayne high schools.”
The schedule on April 20 features a 9 a.m. game between DePaul and Wayne Hills while Wayne Valley faces Passaic Tech. At 11:00 a.m., the championship and consolation games will be played, and at the conclusion, Wayne Mayor Christopher Vergano, will present the Mayor’s Trophy to the winning team.
At 2:00 p.m., the traditional Alumni and Friends game will be played. If friends and alumni are interested in participating or contributing, please visit http://weblink.donorperfect.com/KathleenWalsh2019.
“Between the third and fourth innings of the Alumni and Friends of Kathleen game, we will be naming the softball field, the Kathleen Walsh Softball Field,” said Parler. “This is a once in a lifetime celebration of all that is Kathleen Walsh. Please mark the date on your calendar and don’t miss it.”
While the Spartans will honor its past, a rich tradition of domination within the county will be one of the challenges facing a good DePaul high softball team in 2019.
Parler is beginning her 25th season as head coach, with some talented youngsters. But the coach is also working to fill some key spots in the lineup after last spring’s graduation.
The team captains are seniors Alexa Juchniewicz, a second baseman and outfielder, and Gianna DiPiano, who will play either first or third base.
“The scrimmage season has been a roller coaster,” said Parler. “There were some good things and challenges. Inconsistency is to be expected with this young team, but to be successful, we need to hit on all cylinders on a more regular basis. Nonetheless, we’re looking forward to better weather and some great games this season.”
DePaul finished 12-12 in 2019, which included a record seventh straight Passaic County Tournament championship, when the Spartans edged a feisty Passaic Valley team, 3-2, in the final.
“There is only one returner to the lineup that is in the same position she was in last year,” said Parler, referring to sophomore shortstop Laila Aponte. The coach also noted that Madison Peterson, is injured and will miss some time at the beginning of the season.
“We are young, very young,” said Parler. “We are young in game experience as well. This speaks well to the future, and is our present challenge. How fast we assimilate to a competitive mindset will determine our outcome.”
DePaul was scheduled to open the season on April 1, at Passaic Tech, starting at 4:15 p.m. On April 3, the team will visit Lakeland, at 4:15 and on April 5, the home opener will be against River Dell, also at 4:15 p.m.