March CHS Sports Review


Dylan Falk, Writer

This information is current as of 3/26. 


The pride of many in Cranford, the Cougars have always found success on the baseball diamond, and this year should not be any different. The Cougars will be heavily reliant on a core surrounding a multitude of seniors, Georgia Tech commit Ryan Jaros among them. Younger players should not go unnoticed however, as freshmen, sophomores, and juniors alike will seek a lasting impact on Cranford’s 2023 campaign. 


Cranford will trot out a pitching staff anchored by ace senior Sean Woodruff, coming off of a more than stellar 2.48 ERA in the prior season, which led the “pocket aces,” a strategy Cranford so frequently implements. Jaros, along with Bryant commit Shea Grady, will lead the lineup, with extra firepower coming from senior Jake Carter, who also finds himself at the helm on defense. A multi-sport athlete, Carter’s athleticism really finds its home in the outfield, a place where he has had tremendous success, quickly becoming known for his highlight reel catches which showcase his incredible speed and verticality. 


Ace Sean Woodruff retracts back, waiting to unleash a devastating hook on a rightfully anxious batter.


Despite Cranford’s seemingly uncanny ability to impose its will on the opposition, the North 2 Group 3 competitors are formidable, and will make for a riveting 2023 season. Falling, not without controversy, to Middletown North in the state championship last year, Cranford will be looking to avenge their losses. But first, they must prove their worth against teams like Governor Livingston and Westfield, who have both given Cranford a difficult time in the past. 


Perhaps the biggest rival to Cranford baseball’s mainstay as the pinnacle of Cranford sports, Cranford softball has been greatly successful in years past, and logic would point towards replication. In the past year, Cranford softball has managed a multitude of college commitments, the Union County Conference POTY in Sophia Demarco, and the Union County Conference TOTY. Not mentioned: their Union County Championship win, in which they defeated Elizabeth 9-0, cementing their repeat. 


Looking towards their 2023 season, the Cougars remain poised for victory yet again, positioning themselves atop Union County. Cranford will be led by a group of college-committed stars in the aforementioned Demarco, Giulia Olear, and Avery Toddings. Demarco led the team in HRs last year, managing double digits, while Toddings reached 116 Ks from in the circle. Olear recently committed to Rutgers, and will hope to continue her 2022 season, in which she batted .321 in 81 at-bats (tied for team-high), good for fifth in the lineup. 


Cranford will face staunch opposition in their Watchung Division and Union County Conference alike, with teams like Scotch Plains-Fanwood and 2022 runner-up Elizabeth providing the greatest issue. However, the Cougars should be able to rely on a strong core of seniors and juniors, with added firepower coming from the younger classes as well. 


While golf may not be the most popular sport in town, it is definitely among the most successful in recent years. Housing multiple top performers in Brandon Quach and Derek Gutierrez (the latter recently committed to Rutgers for golf), they were able to take home the state championship in 2022 and will be looking to repeat this year. Not a unique phenomenon  to the golf team, but perhaps most prevalent there, are multi-sport athletes. The majority of the team is made up of athletes who play other sports such as basketball or hockey, and they still maintain an aura of excellence, only exemplified by their continued success. Take junior Jake D’Aquino for example, who is the man behind the goalie mask for the hockey team, and also manages consistent top performances on the links. Cranford golf will be competing against towns such as Westfield, who produce top teams annually that, more often than not, feature multiple college commitments. Golf cultists should relish in the successes of Cranford’s golf team for years to come. 


While not as competitive as some other spring sports in Cranford, the lacrosse team is not one to be ignored. Another team that features many multi-sport athletes, lacrosse has attracted many newcomers recently, much to the benefit of the program. Although they may not have hoisted many trophies in their day, there has been consistent improvement and increasing signs of good things to come. One of these good things is personified in sophomore Ryan Gregerson, who has, as of late, been under the watchful eye of multiple lacrosse stalwarts at the college level. Also featured on the team is junior Joey Brodbeck, who often finds himself as the game’s leading scorer, propelling Cranford to victory. 


Cranford will take on opponents from the NJSIAA South Group 2 division, which includes juggernauts like Wall and Rumson-Fair Haven. However, the Cougars must first take on Summit and Westfield, among others, both teams which have given Cranford trouble in the past. 


The girls’ battle will be fought by an ever-strengthening team, with junior co-captain Sofia Lijo at the forefront. Recently committed to Rowan University for lacrosse, Lijo was an Independence Division all-star last year, a title that three other returning players held, and a division that Cranford won and took home Team of the Year honors in. This season, Cranford will be competing in the Freedom South division, against teams such as Columbia and Scotch Plains-Fanwood. Columbia, a carryover from their prior Independence Division escapades, will pose the greatest threat to Cranford’s chances at a repeat as they finished just one game behind them in last year’s season. 


Fans of lacrosse, both boys and girls, will be excited to learn that both teams hold weight in their respective leagues, and should be awaiting winning seasons from the pair.  


Spring proving to be the season of multi-sport athletes, many football players pick up track and field to prepare themselves for the grueling off season as well as the season itself. Among these football players is Ben Fossella, who has made his name known in shot-putting circles, and rose to the top of the competition. Another shot-putter, Kristen Fries, has also had great success in the winter this year, and will be looking forward to continuing her career in the spring season. The track opening up to more than just cross-country will prove beneficial to the Cranford program, as they have long led the pack in both sprinting and jumping competitions.