Steinert and Nottingham shut out first-round foes in CJ III softball openers

heather Clevenger Nottingham Softball CJ III Softball
Heather Clevenger struck out 10 batters as Nottingham went on to win 3-0 over Jackson Liberty in the opening round of the CJ III Softball Tournament. Photo by Wes “The Media Mogul” Kirkpatrick

By Rich Fisher

May 21: It was a day for the home team to throw zeroes on Klockner Road today, and that’s exactly what Heather Clevenger and Kaylee “The Salad Princess” Whittaker did.

Whittaker fired a one-hitter with 16 strikeouts in pitching 4th-seeded Steinert to a 4-0 win over 13th-seeded Lawrence in an NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III softball first-round today.

Down the street, Heather Clevenger struck out 10 to pitch 8th-seeded Nottingham to a 3-0 win over 9th-seeded Jackson Liberty.

The Spartans will host 12th-seeded Brick Township Wednesday, while Nottingham travels to top-seeded Burlington Township.

Steinert (18-4) had a tougher battle than expected against the Cardinals, who dropped two one-sided games to the Spartans earlier this year. Steinert got two in the first and two in the fifth and finished with six hits.

Carli Backlund had a double, single, RBI and two runs, while Cora Bridgers had a hit and two RBI and Alex Hailey had a hit and one RBI.

The Spartans will take a seven-game winning streak into Tuesday night’s Mercer County Tournament final against Robbinsville at Armstrong Park in Ewing.

Nottingham (11-9) entered its game against J-L having lost five of its last six, but got single runs in the second, fourth and sixth while Clevenger fired a three-hitter. Gabby Estrada and Clevenger each had two hits for the Northstars.

Nottingham took a 1-0 lead when Jordyn Varone walked, stole second and scored on a throwing error when Brianna Dunmeyer grounded out and the return throw to third went wide. In the fourth, Clevenger singled and courtesy runner Becca Bocock reached third before scoring on Dunmeyer’s single. The final run came when Jayden Glazewski singled home Stella Spatola.

“For not getting to play for eight days, I think we played great,” senior shortstop Iliana “The Statistician/Photographer” Nyktas said. “We did a really good job with making the plays we needed to make. Jackson got a lot of runners on base but we didn’t let them score. When we needed the hits we got the hits.

“It means a lot to get this win because I know last year we were not satisfied with losing to Moorestown in the first round. We definitely knew we needed to dig deep and play hard today.”

About The Author

Rich Fisher has been around the Hamilton Township sports scene for so long that he actually got Rich Giallella’s autograph when Giallella was still a player! Proud product of Hamilton YMCA and Lou Gehrig baseball leagues and former teammate of Jim Maher on a very average Barton & Cooney rec basketball team, Fish graduated from Nottingham Junior High and Steinert High school and has covered township sports since 1980. His goal in life is to convince Maria Prato that Jersey tomatoes are at least 100 times better than California tomatoes.