Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ic One Win Away from a Repeat

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ic One Win Away from a Repeat

Article excerpt

LODI - The season has included many more peaks than valleys for the Immaculate Conception softball team. And what the Blue Wolves are currently on at the plate is a lot closer to a major mountain's summit than the bottom of a small hill.

Coach Jeff Horohonich's team has averaged over 11 hits per game in three state tournament wins and aims to continue that offensive outburst on Saturday when Immaculate Conception takes on St. Joseph of Hammonton for the Non-Public B championship at Toms River North High School.

The Blue Wolves (27-2) will be looking for a second straight title after earning the first softball crown in school history last year with a 6-4 victory over Sacred Heart of Vineland.

"We're playing at a high level and many of our hitters are going through their best streaks of the season the last couple of weeks - and we think we can keep the line drives coming," said Amanda Zielinski, a senior third baseman from Belleville. "For a little while we were struggling, but we have shaken off that decline and are moving steadily back in the right direction."

Zielinski is batting .447 with 39 hits and 31 RBI and has four home runs, including three grand slams.

Other top producers for the Blue Wolves include junior center fielder and leadoff hitter Gabby Slade (.605, 53 hits, 33 RBI, five home runs), sophomore second baseman Andee Lupica (.524, 48 hits) and freshman first baseman Ali Moran (.467, 44 hits).

"Everybody in the order is contributing heavily from No. 1 through No. 9, and there is no one on this team that's not making an impact with their production," said Hillsdale's Slade.

"We have good speed, good power and we hit well for average. So we don't feel we need to bunt that much to move runners over because we don't want to be surrendering any outs if there isn't an absolute necessity. We go up there hacking and aren't cheated on any of our swings."

The Blue Wolves, champions of the NJIC Meadowlands Division, lost their first game to Caravel Academy of Bear, Del., 4-1, on April 19. They then ripped off an 18-game winning streak before falling to resurgent Northern Highlands, 5-2, in the Bergen County tournament quarterfinals May 24. …

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