MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Columbia High School varsity head softball coach Cliff Smith was proud of his team’s successful season.
“I thought this year we had a very successful year,” wrote Smith in an email to The News-Record. “We finished with a 16-9 record overall and a 7-3 record in the (Super Essex Conference) SEC-Liberty (Division), which had us finish second behind Caldwell and Millburn, who tied for the championship. We had a great mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen that I believe was the key to our success.”
The team boasted a strong balanced attack at the plate.
“Offensively we were lead by a cast of players throughout the year, which was great,” Smith said. “I feel like my previous three seasons as head coach, we really relied on one or two players to carry us. But this year, everyone had their moments that lead us to victories.”
The team’s two biggest contributors were rising junior Hudson Hassler and graduate Jordan Stephan, cited Smith. Both players made First Team on the All-SEC-Liberty.
Hassler batted .452 with 42 hits, including eight doubles, along with 22 RBIs and 22 runs scored, while Stephan batted .436 with 34 hits, including five doubles.
In addition, Stephan hit a milestone this season that no other player had reached since 2012, which was record her 100th career hit, which occurred against Montville.
As a pitcher, Stephan finished 9-4 with 103 strikeouts to only 11 walks, with a 1.51 ERA.
Smith, indeed, is looking forward to 2019.
“Next season I believe we really have a chance to match this season or even surpass it. We have six starters returning, led by (rising) senior Cara Harrington. The infield returns all four starters, and the pitching duties will be figured out during March, but early indications say it will be Ellie Mischel, who will be a junior; Sydney Waldon, who will be a sophomore; and Julia Ethan, who will also be a junior. The outfield will be led by Cara Harrington.”
Also on the All-SEC-Liberty Division were graduate Catherine John, and rising juniors Alexa Stephan and Claire Salinardo, who made Second Team and graduate Sophie Goldman and rising junior Lucy Gagne, who made Honorable Mention.