Competitive schedule designed to make Rockets contenders

first_img Middletown High School North’s Kelly Rasmussen slides into second base ahead of the tag of Raritan High School shortstop Daniella Marino during the Together We Believe a Cure is Possible Softball Classic at Manalapan High School. The Rockets won the game, 9-2, at the event that raised money and awareness for the NephHope Foundation, an organization aimed at finding a cure for the rare kidney disease, nephronophthisis. ERIC SUCAR staff I f the Raritan High School softball team is going to contend for a division title, it will have to battle through a slate of competitive games this season.That’s exactly what head coach Aado Kommendant envisioned — a tough schedule that will put the Rockets in a better position to compete in the postseason.“We’re playing a tough schedule to compete in May and June,” said Kommendant, who is in his fifth season at Raritan. “That way, we’ll be battle-tested.”The head coach added that Raritan is less concerned about its record, although with a large group of returning players from last year’s 17-10 team, the Rockets have the experience to get through the regular season schedule.Seniors Lindsey Carver, Casey Bossert and Laura Gesario provide the team with veteran leadership. Carver is an outfielder, while Bossert plays in the infield and outfield. Gesario is an infielder and catcher.Pitcher Emily Schaffer is the lone junior on the team, while sophomore Bethany Budner will also be on the mound. Also in the lineup are sophomores Bethany Evans (1B/OF), Brianna Rinaldi (C/IF/OF), Daniella Marino (SS) and Francesca Svoboda (IF/OF).Freshmen Nicole Coppolino, a pitcher, and Madison Bou, an outfielder, are the two newcomers on this season’s Raritan squad.Kommendant said the lineup is proving to be balanced. Raritan can come up with big hits and “do the little things,” such as stealing a base, when necessary, he said.The head coach also expressed optimism that his pitching staff is developing into a strength.“All three [pitchers] have already proven to me [that] they are up for the big moment. They don’t shy away from the ball,” he said.Overall, the Rockets have proven to be very team-centric, according to Kommendant. Each player is focused on helping Raritan accomplish its objectives.“These girls are more concerned about the name on the front of the uniform, and they realize what a privilege it is to wear a Raritan Rockets uniform,” he said.In the first of many tests this spring, Raritan (3-2) fell short in Immaculate Heart Academy’s IHA Invitational on April 7, losing to Saddle Brook High School, 4-3. Marino tripled and then scored on an error to give the Rockets a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning, before Raritan and Saddle Brook each scored a run to make it a 3-1 game. But Saddle Brook tied the game when it scored twice in the bottom of the sixth, pushing it to extra innings. Raritan surrendered the winning run in the 10th inning.On April 5, the Rockets’ bats came alive to topple Monmouth Regional High School, 14-7, led by a home run and five RBIs from Marino. Schaffer finished 1-3 with a double and three RBIs.On April 5, the Rockets were one of 14 teams participating in the Together We Believe a Cure is Possible Softball Classic at Manalapan High School. The event raised money for the NephHope Foundation, an organization aimed at finding a cure for the rare kidney disease, nephronophthisis. The Rockets beat Middletown High School North, 9-2, in their game.Raritan was scheduled to play a road game against Red Bank Catholic on April 9. The team will stay on the road to face Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School on April 11, followed by a matchup the next day at Middletown High School South.Raritan’s next big test will come on April 13 against Bloomfield High School as part of the Mount St. Dominic Invitational. On April 20, the Rockets will host the fifth annual Stephanie Coonan Don’t Stop Believin’ Classic. Middletown South and Mount St. Dominic Academy will play in the first game, followed by Raritan and Morris Knolls High School. The final matchup will be Immaculate Heart against Allentown High School.There will be a $5 admission that will go to a scholarship fund in honor of Coonan, a 2003 Raritan graduate and softball co-captain who died after a battle with stomach cancer. BY MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent last_img read more