Wall, NJ- Another year and another title for the Saint John Vianney girls softball program.  The Lancers on Saturday afternoon captured their seventh straight title with a 4-0 win over Middletown North in the Monmouth County Tournament Red Championship.

Saint John Vianney improved to 16-1 overall and 11-0 in A Central with a game based on defense, pitching and just three hits.  Demi Rivera got in and out of trouble all game giving up 10 hits, 1 walk, no strikeouts and 1 earned run over seven innings.  Over the first five innings she stranded the Lions offense with 6 runners left on base by changes speeds and locations, keeping the batters off balance.

Afterwards Rivera added, "I was able to turn the ball over in the zone and hit the inside of the outside of the plate today, but mostly I relied on my defense to help me out today…when a pitcher has 100% faith in their defense, it makes it easy to just go out there and throw."

SJV's Demi Rivera pitches Lancers to MCT Championship Crown (photo Eric Braun)

In the top of the second, Lancers senior left fielder Helena Coppola came up with what would turn out to be the play of the game.  After the Lions Gabby Cerbo reached on a fielders choice and advanced to second on a single to right from Alyssa Vetrano, it looked like Middletown North was ready to jump on the board first. After Ryan Rasmussen popped up to second for the second out of the inning, Payleigh Behan hit a line drive to Coppola who fielded the play on three hops and fired her throw to catcher Ally Jones on a rope and threw out Cerbo trying to score from second to keep the score at 0-0.

Middletown North's Gabby Cerbo is thrown out at the plate in the second inning against SJV (photo Eric Braun)

Through three innings of play, the best two teams in Monmouth County traded jabs but neither one flinched until the fourth inning.  In the bottom of the fourth inning the Lancers would take advantage of a little luck and hustle to jump on Middletown North.

A leadoff walk to Gianna Mavica followed by a failed sacrifice bunt, that was popped up to catcher Rasmussen for the first out of the inning, set the stage for a wild Lancers fourth inning.  The next batter was Antonia Pacillo who hit a drive to deep centerfield that was played to near perfection by North's Behan who crashed into the wall and brought back a home run but dropped the ball on impact with the wall but held Pacillo to a long single.

Middletown North's Payleigh Behan crashes into the wall saving a home run against SJV (photo Eric Braun)

The Lancers offense would take over after this play and plated four runs to close out the inning.  Another SJV single, this time from Anne Manganiello, setup the bases loaded.  A pass ball scored Mavica and moved up Pacillo and Manganiello.  Saint John Vianney would take advantage of a wild thrown on a fielders choice to the plate that scored both runners to give the Lancers all the offense they would need.

Middletown North would get on the board in the sixth inning when pitcher Riley Kernan, who finished 3 for 3, drove to left centerfield and beat the throw to second for a double.  The Lions would score on an RBI single to left from Vetrano to cut the lead to 4-1 but that would be the closest they would get to SJV.

Afterwards when asked about her teams performance, St John Vianney's head coach Kim Lombardi added "we were a young team coming into this season and our expectations are always set high…we preach defense all season long and today it showed that defense win championships, Helena made a great play to help us and we capitalized on their miscues."