April CHS Sports Review


Dylan Falk, Writer

current as of 4/22. 


Baseball has taken after the immense amount of winning teams who have come before them, leaving opponents on the side of the road as they speed past to a 10-0 record. Defeating apt competitors such as North Hunterdon and Governor Livingston, Cranford has left no doubt about their stature atop the UCC, above teams such as Westfield (7-3) and Summit (8-2). These victories have catapulted Cranford to 13th among public schools in the state, according to NJ.com.

The Cougars’ most recent victory came against Summit, a game in which they were down 2-1 going into the top of the seventh inning, and eventually won 3-2. Led by senior Shea Grady’s two RBIs, and junior Dennis McCaffery’s one, the Cougars were able to comeback and win in their closest game so far this season. On the mound for Cranford that game was senior Sean Woodruff, who, fresh off a near perfect game against Johnson, was able to hold a stubborn Summit lineup to a meager two runs through seven innings. Woodruff’s second complete game this season was completed in just 87 pitches, and could be attributed to Woodruff managing to allow only one walk in the whole game, a feat difficult to accomplish. 

The rest of Cranford’s staff has been nothing short of superb as well, as seniors Ben Monahan and Matt Chapman have come into their own, while junior Michael Zalinkanskas leads the team in strikeouts with seventeen. Monahan and Chapman have pitched on this team before, and have done so with efficacy, whereas this has been Zalinkanskas first year in the rotation. Also of note on the staff is senior Dan Olear, who has managed seven strikeouts in just five innings, a 1.4 K/9 rate that would place him atop Cranford’s leaderboards.

Cranford has a strong list of competitors in the coming week, with Bayonne starting it off on Sunday (4/23), and their first matchups with New Providence and Westfield coming in the middle of the week, with a rematch against Governor Livingston coming on Friday (4/28).

Perhaps exceeding the teams of the past, Cranford softball has left multiple ranked opponents desolate, defeating then-#4 IHA and then-#6 Watchung Hills, propelling the Lady Cougars to a 10-2 record and a ranking of #6 in the state, according to NJ.com. 

Their defeats of multiple ranked opponents have been thrown by senior Avery Toddings, who managed a resounding twelve strikeouts against Immaculate Heart, and eight against Watchung Hills. Another major contributor to the Lady Cougars success has been junior Sophia DeMarco, who has found twenty-one hits, five of which have landed over the fence. Along with her .553 average, she ranks first on the team in those categories. DeMarco was also able to tally her 100th hit against Elizabeth, a game in which the Lady Cougars were victorious 8-0. 

Also major players in Cranford’s dominance have been seniors Madi Jones and Giulia Olear, with the former hitting .484 and the latter .350. Fellow seniors Sabrina Prato and Katie Bendert have also joined the offensive barrage, both hitting over .300, and becoming consistent hotspots in the Lady Cougar lineup. Cranford’s ability to rely on two pitchers who both emanate ERAs under 1, and an offense full of hitters over .300 has led to major success. Should they continue this run against their upcoming opponents, there is no reason the team should not find themselves atop the NJ.com rankings. 

These upcoming opponents include Westfield, who has won their last two as opposed to Cranford’s recent tandem of losses, and Brearly, who has posed little threat to Cranford in the past. The Lady Cougars will look to perpetuate their ranking inside the top 10, and eventually reign victorious in the county championship a la last year’s team.   

Boys lacrosse has outperformed their predecessors as of late, laying claim to a 5-3 record, including a close loss (8-7) to a formidable opponent in St Peter’s Prep. However, Cranford is still searching for their first victory in a divisional game, as they have obtained an 0-3 record in NJILL play. Cranford has fallen to the aforementioned St Peter’s Prep, as well as Delaware Valley and Livingston. 

Despite a large senior presence on the roster, younger classes have remained atop the statsheet, with junior Joey Brodbeck leading the team in goals with fifteen, and sophomore Ryan Gregersen leading the team in assists with ten. Brodbeck’s six assists are good enough to make him the leader of the team in points as well, with twenty-one. Senior goalie Ryan Littler has been a force in net for the Cougars as well, boasting a nearly 65% save percentage, saving 103 of the 160 shots on net. 

Upcoming opponents for the team includes Johnson, and NJILL foe Madison, a game in which the Cougars will be looking for their first mark in the divisional win column. Should the Cougars do that, they will be on a good pace to make a run in the NJILL. 

Girls lacrosse has been off to a less than fortunate start to their 2023 season, posting a 2-4 record and a winless record in their Freedom South division. However, two of these losses came in close contests, both by 4 goals. Should those games have gone the other way, perhaps the team would be looked upon more favorably. 

Nonetheless, there are many bright spots on the team, including junior Shea Matheson, who leads the team in points with twenty-three. Other players just behind her are juniors Sofia Lijo and Kristina Lowe, along with sophomore Kate Zambito. Despite her younger status, Zambito has become a focal point for the Cougars both offensively and defensively, with eighteen points and fourteen ground balls (takeaways, for those unfamiliar with lacrosse verbiage). 

Cranford will look to get back on track against nearing opponents like Lakeland and Columbia, where hopefully wins will boost their subpar Freedom South record. 

The golf team, as is the status quo, have been largely successful, only falling to one team in Westfield, who is perennially a titan in the high school golf world, and even then the score was only 148-160. Every other team the Cougars have handled with swift certainty, as the closest matchup was decided by 27 strokes against Scotch Plains-Fanwood. 

Consistently atop the leaderboards have been senior Derek Gutierrez and junior Brandon Quach, who have both led the Cougars to this usual success of the last few years. Also of good performance have been senior Nicholas Ret, and juniors Chris Santarelli and Danny Kennedy, all of which have found their footing on the team this year, and have been integral to their successes. The Cougars will need their strong performances to persist should they return to their stellar 2022 season. 

Seeing a plethora of new recruits to the program, track has dominated their recent events, with a multitude of medals being awarded to sprinters, throwers, and jumpers, boys and girls alike. Among these recipients was freshman Courtney Toy, who finished second in the mile run by setting a personal record of 5:18.36. The shot-putters continued to dominate the competition, with Ben Fossella and Kristen Fries resuming their Jordanesque performances from the winter season, both claiming medals in the Madison Relays.