Defending championsgo 2-2 at nationaltournament By tim morrisStaff Writer Defending champions go 2-2 at national tournament By tim morris Staff Writer With the season now behind him, Bo Scannapieco has more of an appreciation for what his Brookdale Community College softball team accomplished this year. “Looking back on it, we did well,” said the veteran skipper. “Summing up the season, we really did exceed expectations. “Being the national champions there was a little more pressure to get back and to defend it,” he said. “There was pressure on the girls all year. We were the hunted and got everyone’s best effort. It was a challenge for the girls and they accomplished a lot.” The Jersey Blues finished fourth at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III national championships, May 16-18, going 2-2. They were one game away from playing Anne Arundel, Md., (the eventual winner) for the national title, losing to Broome, N.Y., 10-7, in the double-elimination tournament held in Joliet, Ill. “We gave a gallant effort,” Scannapieco said. “I’m not disappointed at anything. We distinguished ourselves well. “I think we finished about where we should have,” he added. Brookdale, which won its eighth consecutive Region XIX championship on its way back to the nationals, began the defense of its national title with a 7-3 win over Nassau, N.Y. Ryan Lafferty improved to 15-4 on the season and fanned 10 batters. Jessica Williams and Kristin Tozzi slammed run-scoring doubles in a six-run fifth inning that broke the contest open. In the second round, the Blues fell victim to a perfect game from Anne Arundel’s Tina Willis as she bested last year’s national tournament Most Valuable Player Marissa Busch, 2-0. Busch (19-3), was outstanding herself. She tossed a four-hitter and did not give up an earned run. Brookdale stayed alive in the loser’s bracket the next day as Busch picked up her 20th win of the season, beating Dawson, Mont., 7-3. “I thought that was our best game of the tournament. We got good pitching, hitting and fielding,” Scannapieco said. In the second game against Broome, the Blues’ title defense bid ended as they appeared to run out of gas, losing a 5-2 lead. With the loss, the Jersey Blues finished the 2003 campaign at 36-9 and fourth in the nation. Not bad at all for a team that had just nine players at its first meeting of the season. Scannapieco was still able to put together a team that won the Garden State Athletic Conference title during the regular season and defended its Region XIX title against some very talented teams. “We could have been beaten in the Regions this year,” Scannapieco said. “Give credit to the girls, they did everything they had to do to be a championship team.” Williams and Tozzi were two newcomers who drew praise from Scannapieco because both, like many on the team, were playing out of position defensively — Williams at shortstop and Tozzi behind the plate. “There was a lot of pressure playing shortstop and Jessica Williams handled it,” said Scannapieco. “She played stellar defense and batted .415 with 48 RBIs. “We wouldn’t have been able to do what we did without Kristen Tozzi,” he added. “I have to compliment every kid who played out of position.” Williams was the lone Jersey Blue to make the all-tournament team in Joliet. She was 9-for-14 at the national championships. Williams was a first team all-American, and Busch was named second team all-American. Busch, a first team pick last year, is only the third Jersey Blue to be a two-time all-American, joining Maryann Soares and Amanda Smith. Busch, Williams and Jessica Murray all made the all-Region first team, with Lafferty and Tozzi second team selections. Busch, Williams, Murray and Deirdre Trujillo were all-GSAC first team members with Lafferty a second team choice. Murray, a center fielder, had a big season, batting .500 with six home runs and 60 RBIs. She and Williams were one-two in RBIs in the nation. The incomparable Busch was brilliant again, completing a record-breaking career. She was 20-3 for the season with an earned run average of 0.95. She authored one no-hitter and 10 shutouts. She set BCC career records for shutouts (26), strike outs (294), innings pitched (311.66), earned run average (0.78) and winning percentage (.857). Her 42 career wins (42-7) tied Dara DeVincenzo for the most in school history and her five career no-hitters also matched DeVincenzo’s. Busch’s impact, however, went beyond numbers. “There are two or three players who you remember as being special, and she’s one of them,” said Scannapieco. “She’s very loyal, wants to win, is motivated and works hard at it. She’s very team-oriented. She cares what the team does. She’s one of the special players.” In looking ahead to 2004, Lafferty proved that she can win big games and should settle in nicely at the top of the rotation. The lefty was 15-5 with a 1.62 ERA and fanned 141 batters. She won the decisive game against Gloucester in the Region finals. Tozzi, despite moving to a new position, batted .323 with 25 RBIs.