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Bound Brook Softball On the Rise

On Wednesday, April 29th, Shannon Deluca garnered her 100th win as a head coach.

So far it has been a season of great accomplishments for the Bound  Brook High School varsity softball team, and  it is not over yet. With a 12-0 record, they are looking to take The Brook back to victory for the first time since 1997 when they won the state championship with a 31-0 record.

A vital part of their success has been their coach. Shannon Deluca went from playing on Bound Brook softball teams her whole life, to competing in college, to coming right back to coach in The Brook. Aside from the players themselves, Coach Deluca is making her own personal history. On Wednesday, April 29th, she garnered her 100th win as a head coach in a 7-0 triumph over South River.

“It feels amazing. I played in Bound Brook as a kid, I played in college, and I came back to coach middle school, JV, and now varsity. To get this win with this year’s team at Bound Brook just feels really, really special,” Deluca said of the victory.

Bound Brook High School softball team celebrates with their head coach after her 100th career win. (Image taken by a Bound Brook softball parent)

Bound Brook High School softball team celebrates with their head coach after her 100th career win. (Image taken by a Bound Brook softball parent)

Her greatest memory as a coach is winning the state championship with Bound Brook as an assistant coach back in 1997, when a number of the girls on this year’s team were born. She hopes for this year’s girls to experience the same feeling she did back in ’97. Although they are 12-0, maintaining that undefeated streak isn’t as important to Deluca as many people would think.

“It’s nice to be undefeated, but that’s not my ultimate goal. Right now we are first in our conference so I’d like to win that and hopefully states. I just want them to be as successful as possible and achieve the goals we set at the beginning of the year; that doesn’t mean being undefeated.”

Captain Allison Stagaard has been a starting varsity player since her freshman year and is happy to finally see the team conquering not only their rivals, but all who doubted them. When asked if she expected to find so much success as a team she claims that it is every team’s goal to do this well; still, hers in particular never realized this goal was attainable until they actually started playing together and truly seeing the skill they have accumulated over the past few years.

In a nutshell, this undefeated season has been a series of base hits, homeruns, and ten run rules. Exactly half of their games so far have been cut short to five innings,  including a win against Mount Saint Mary’s, a team who they have more than often been defeated by in the past.

“It is the best feeling ever to be beating teams that we’ve taken losses from over the years. We go in knowing it’s a hard team and at the end of the day we ten run them and it’s just like ‘Bam… that just happened.’ It’s great moving up as a team, creating new rivals, and making our old ones just another game.”

To many it has not only come as a surprise but a mystery as to why and how this year’s team is just so good. Some say it’s the seniors, while others say their opponents have “lost their good players.” After a series of questions and answers, it is as simple as this: the team has chemistry. The momentum gathered amongst the girls over the past 4 years has finally achieved critical mass. The fact that the seniors have the same appreciation for the underclassmen as the underclassmen have for them is what accounts for the camaraderie.

What drives this team the most? In the words of sophomore starting right fielder Emely Cortez…

“Definitely the seniors that are leaving this year. They have this effect on the team where even if we’re down they pick us up. For me, and I think I could speak for the rest of the girls- we just want to win it all. We want to be the team that can say we did it and that’s just something that we’re striving for. This past week has been my favorite part of the season. We’ve had six games in the past seven days and we’ve been winning them and getting a lot of runs. When we’re tired we just push ourselves and that proves how much of a driven team we are.”

Coach Deluca describes the girls as simply “clutch.” When it comes down to two outs and needing a big hit or a big catch or a big pitch, they just do it. Other teams in the past who were pretty good could never push it to the next level and would end up crumbling under the pressure. It is obvious that this team loves pressure.

Breezing through a season like this can make it easy for a team to be cocky, which usually leads to unexpected and disappointing defeat. But the motivation from teammate to teammate never ceases no matter what the score. Whether up by 15 or down by one, it is always loud on the field and in the dugout. As a fan in the stands one of the first things I noticed was senior captain Allison Stagaard’s none stop cheers.

“I guess that’s just part of being a captain and a leader. I try to remind my team and myself that if we strike out we can’t bring it onto the field you can’t bring it in to the next inning, you just have to keep it going. I remind the girls to never take a team lightly or play down to their level.”

At the end of it all one thing is clear: win, lose, or play six games in a row, these girls love softball. A state title has not been earned since just about when most of these girls were born. It has been part of the agenda all season, and it is finally within reach for the Lady Crusaders.

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