first_imgMIDDLETOWN SOUTH By WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Middletown High School South’s softball team is finding ways to win games lately, but hitting has not been much of a factor in that. Although different batters have come up with goodhitting games as of late, coach Tom Erbig said there continues to be a lack of support in that regard, a problem that stems back to last season.Erbig said his team, which has a good 14-8 record despite its hitting woes, may sneak away with a state tournament win or two, but it will be hard to get much further without healthier and more reliable contact at the plate. The Eagles play the Allentown High School vs. Hopewell Valley Central High School winner in the next round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III tournament after pulling out a 2-1opening round victory over Hightstown High School, as Maddie McMahon pitched a three-hitter.They also began play in the Shore Conference Tournament on May 20 in a game scheduled against Manalapan High School. The Eagles are concentrating on those two tournaments this season, as they passed up playing in the Monmouth County Tournament because Erbig said it was too hard to get the games in.“My pitching — no complaint,” said Erbig, as McMahon and Tiffani Lambert have shared those duties capably. “We just don’t perform on offense enough. We’re batting .333 as a team, which is not saying much in softball. Our hitting has been anemic. Our defense has been sometimes suspect, but lately it’s been all right. We’re like a Jekyll and Hyde team. One day we come out and play very well, and another day we’re sloppy.”The Eagles had perhaps their best day of the season on May 14 when they knocked off perennial Monmouth County power St. John Vianney High School, 3-1. Julia Beck smashed a two-run single and Julia Blarr knocked in another run. Beck has been the bright spot, hitting around .400. “They hit the ball right at us, and we made the plays we needed to make,” Erbig said. Grace Heller belted a tworun homer that decided a 2-0 victory over Raritan High School on May 13. McMahon pitched the shutout. It came a day after Middletown South flubbed in the field in a 5-4 loss to Red Bank Catholic High School. “We had that game won, but we threw the ball away and did not capitalize on opportunities late in the game after we started off good,” Erbig said. “Every at-bat by the opposing team becomes important because the games are close. I don’t understand it because we looked so good in the preseason, a different team from what we’ve had out there [lately].” There’s no room for error with the light hitting, and that includes on the mound, where Lambert got one pitch up that was hit for a deciding home run in a loss to Middletown High School North, 2-1. It was part of the Eagles’ three-game losing streak before last week’s games, when the Eagles went 4-1, including a 4-3 victory over Ocean Township High School that started the week.Erbig can only be cautiously optimistic about whether the hitting will get better for a team that has been tournament tough over the years.last_img

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