The Hun School softball team knows there are some obstacles in its path to a third straight state Prep A championship.
But the Raiders also feel like they’re up to the challenge and well prepared to make a run at a title. Hun improved to 7-4 on the season with a 8-2 victory over the Hill School on Wednesday in Princeton.
The victory was the second this season for Hun over its Mid-Atlantic Prep League rival.Hun beat Hill, 10-1, on April 24 in Pennsylvania.
“It was a very good win,” junior shortstop Gigi Venizelos said about Wednesday's triumph. “It’s hard when you come out and beat a team originally but then you have to rally back and come to the game with the same amount of intensity as last time. We have been putting in a lot of practice with hitting off the machine and off of coach pitch and it is really paying off.”
When the Prep A tournament gets underway on either May 9 or May 14, Hun will face the test of having to avenge regular-season losses to Lawrenceville and Blair Academy. Hun has lost to the Big Red twice his season and they’ve fallen once to Blair.
“We’re not letting that defeat us and we’re still coming out every single day to practice with 100 percent intensity and 100 percent energy,” said Venizelos, who had three hits and drove in a pair of runs in the win over Hill. “I think we have a really good group of girls this year that are always coming out ready to play.
“The state tournament will be fun. It’s another shot at Lawrenceville and Blair outside of the MAPL, so we always come into that really energized and ready to play.”
Hun has lost games 7-0 and 4-3 against Lawrenceville, while also falling to Blair, 6-0. But the team feels like it is playing its best softball at the right time and is looking forward to a chance for redemption against both teams.
“We’re always fighting for the state championship or the MAPL championship,” Venizelos said. “But it is always about the team and the camaraderie of the girls. So no matter how good your team is, any team can beat any team on a given day. So you want to come to every game ready to give 100 percent.”
In each of the last two years, the Raiders have come away with a Prep A state title. And in both cases, the chemistry of the team made a difference. Venizelos feels like this year’s team has that same sort of chemistry.
“Our upperclassmen are always super welcoming to the underclassmen, so we don’t tend to have issues with the new players feeling timid or shy at the beginning of the season,” the Pennington resident said. “Everyone is coming out ready to play from the first day of the season. Our team is super tight knit and the Quirks are just like our parents.”
Venizelos is in her third season as the Raiders’ starting shortstop. She has been a consistent presence in the field and at the plate during her career.
“She is a joy to coach,” Hun coach Kathy Quirk said. “She works hard every day in practice. She goes the extra mile and that’s why she is the player that she is.”
For Venizelos, not working hard is not an option.
“I have been pretty happy,” she said of her season. “I think defensively I can say I have been pretty proud of myself. I can always count on my teammates to pick me up if I make an error and it’s the same thing if I have an at bat that doesn’t go well. I might have Megan (Donohue) telling me next at bat try this. Just little things that can help. We’re all there to support each other.”
In the decision over Hill, Erin Harrigan allowed just two runs on six hits. At the plate, Harrigan collected two hits and drove in three runs. Katie Angelini also produced two hits for the Raiders, who won their second straight game after a 4-3 loss to Lawrenceville.
Hun will play at West Windsor-Plainsboro South on Tuesday and will be the host to Blair on Wednesday.