There is a point in every sports season when being undefeated becomes significant.
The Saint John Vianney High School softball team has reached that point.
With about two weeks left in the regular season, the Lancers have rung up a 15-0 record.
Which means they are getting The Question: can you guys finish undefeated?
Saint John Vianney coach Kim Lombardi is in her 15th season leading the program. She’s a veteran coach, and she knows how to answer The Question.
“We just take it day by day,” Lombardi said.
“Being undefeated would be awesome,” she added. “But we have a check list of goals and that’s not on it.”
Here’s what is on that checklist: the Shore Conference’s B North Division title, the Monmouth County Tournament championship, the Shore Conference Tournament crown, the NJSIAA South Jersey, Non-Public A sectional tournament trophy, the NJSIAA Non-Public A tournament banner and the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions state prize.
The list is long, but the Lancers can do all of it. After all, they won all those titles last year besides the Shore Conference Tournament and the Tournament of Champions.
Saint John Vianney is presently ranked No. 1 in one state poll.
“It’s nice. I’m happy and confident in our team,” said the Lancers’ senior catcher, Ally Jones. “But it truly doesn’t matter until the postseason.”
Lombardi has a loaded roster of veteran contributors with championship experience. The coach can literally point to any aspect of her team and call it a strength.
For starters, the Lancers have the dominant pitcher that all softball contenders need. Junior right-hander Julia Parker is 14-0 with an 0.73 earned run average and 100 strikeouts in 74 innings.
Lombardi pitched herself for Red Bank Catholic High School and Monmouth University, so she calls pitches for Parker, who makes the job fun like a chess game. The junior throws just about every pitch, a fastball, a changeup, a curveball, a drop curveball, a rise ball and even a screwball.
And after years of working together, the coach and the hurler have great chemistry.
“She’s in control of every pitch,” Lombardi said. “So we’re not always going to the same one.”
The defense behind Parker is as strong as her pitching. Saint John Vianney has allowed seven runs in 15 games, and six were earned. So the Lancers’ defense has surrendered one unearned run in 15 contests.
“We normally don’t make errors,” Lombardi said.
“I know that behind me is a great team,” Parker added. “It gives me a lot of confidence.”
With Parker and these fielders, the Lancers only need like one run, maybe two, per game. But of course, just to leave no doubt, they average 9.4 tallies per contest.
Senior right fielder Gabby Polera entered this season “in the best shape of her life,” Lombardi said. It has shown. Polera is hitting .622 with five home runs and 44 runs produced (21 runs batted in, 23 runs scored).
Parker is nearly as good at the plate as in the circle. The senior is batting .595 with a team leading 29 RBIs.
Jones has 20 RBIs. Sophomore shortstop Haley Ahr sports a .469 average and 35 runs produced. Senior second baseman Alexis Agrapides is hitting .409 with 20 runs scored.
We could go on. This is probably the best softball team in New Jersey, even if it doesn’t finish undefeated.
The softball Tournament of Champions is three years old, a tournament that Saint John Vianney has yet to win.
“We’ll look to win our championships,” Lombardi said.
“That would mean a lot,” Polera added. “But we’re taking it game by game.”