The St. John Vianney High School softball team finished the season on a high note. Coming off a loss to underdog Immaculata High School in the NJSIAA Non-Public South Jersey A finals, the Lancers bounced back in the Shore Conference Tournament championship a day later. St. John Vianney came out swinging with six runs in the first two innings, and the Lancers went on to rout Pinelands Regional High School, 12-0, for the title.“You want to go out winning your last game,” head coach Kim Lombardi recalled telling the team’s seniors. “I told them not to leave the field without a win.”Top-seed St. John Vianney got on the board when Demi Rivera came around to score on an error. Junior Jessica Carlucci knocked in another run with a single, followed by an RBI-hit off the bat of freshman Gianna Mavica.Pinelands had three more errors in the second inning, allowing three Lancers to score. In the fourth inning, St. John Vianney broke the game open. A run-scoring hit by senior Katie Baron and a two-run home run by Carlucci made it 9-0.Senior Jackie Gallagher drove in two runs with a single. Sophomore Helena Coppola tacked on another run with an RBI single that scored senior Marlena Bevilacqua. “I didn’t have one player hit below .300 this year. We hit consistently one through nine,” Lombardi said.The conference championship caps a season that began with big questions for St. John Vianney (26-2), which lost standout pitcher and University of Notre Damebound Katie Beriont to an injury before Opening Day. The Lancers dealt with other injuries as well. Junior Claire Stefanelli missed the entire season.Lombardi noted how St. John Vianney showed no signs of slowing down after losing two of its top players right off the bat.“I’m proud of our kids,” she said.Junior Ashley Ventura had a very strong year on the mound, throwing seven no-hitters and four perfect games en route to a 26- 2 record. In the Shore Conference title game on June 4, Ventura allowed just three hits in five innings of work against Pinelands.Lombardi, who completed her 10th season as head coach, said Ventura proved to be a dominant pitcher “for a girl who was going to be at first base this season.”Following last week’s loss in the state sectionals, the Lancers were motivated to win their final game of the year. Lombardi said the team rallied around St. John Vianney’s seniors, who were taking the field for the last time.“I told them they can’t get down,” she said. “They had one more championship to play. They had a chance to redeem themselves.” By MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent
Britain’s Kyle Edmund enjoyed one of the biggest triumphs of his career by defeating former world number one Novak Djokovic 6-3 2-6 6-3 in the second round of the Madrid Open.Djokovic, a two-time champion in the Spanish capital, has not won a deciding set this year and, having previously suffered final set losses to Martin Klizan, Dominic Thiem and Taro Daniel, the 30-year-old Serb’s disappointing run continued.Edmund claimed the decisive break in the eighth game of the decider before coolly closing out his service game to love for his 14th match win of the year.“It was a great experience to beat Novak, he is a legend of the game,” Edmund told Sky Sports. “It’s time to try and beat these guys and I was pleased how I managed my game.”The world number 22 will face eighth-seeded Belgian David Goffin in the third round.Djokovic, who has been hampered by a long-term elbow injury, has not reached the last eight of a tournament since last year’s Wimbledon.He has struggled on his return to clay ahead of the French Open, having suffered early exits in Monte Carlo and Barcelona last month.“Look, there are obvious things that are not working well for me,” the 12-times grand slam champion said.“But I have to keep working on them and pray that — and hope that my game will get stronger, get better as definitely as the matches… go the distance.”World number one Rafa Nadal recorded his 20th straight win on clay as he began his quest for a sixth title in Madrid, defeating Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-3 6-1.Nadal, who received a bye in the opening round, fired 17 winners and went on to lose just one of 13 service points in the second set to seal victory.The 31-year-old Spaniard has now won 48 consecutive sets on the surface, two sets shy of breaking American John McEnroe’s record of 49 straight sets on a single surface in 1984.World number seven Dominic Thiem and sixth-seed Kevin Anderson joined Nadal and Edmund in the last-16 but home favourite Feliciano Lopez, who will become tournament director next year, was beaten by Argentine Diego Schwartzman.
Advertisement AdvertisementFour division world champion Mikey Garcia has vacated his IBF Lightweight world title in pursuit of a dangerous fight against IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr early next year.Mikey Garcia won the IBF title in July when he defeated Robert Easter Jr in a 12-round unanimous decision victory to unify the lightweight title. He was supposed to defend his title against his mandatory challenger Richard Commey.“Yes, I vacated,” Garcia told ESPN on Tuesday afternoon. “I just didn’t have enough time to negotiate the Commey fight in the time the IBF required so I needed to vacate. I have a lot of options but the fight with Spence is the fight I want.”“The IBF was pushing for the Commey fight ASAP but with the WBC I have more time to decide what I want to do,” Garcia said. “But I’m looking for bigger fights. We have options and I just couldn’t get excited for the Richard Commey fight and the timing [the IBF] required to get it done was not enough time to negotiate considering the other options I have.”Ringstar Sports promoter Richard Schaefer, who works with Mikey Garcia said that he is actively pursuing the Spence fight and he wants it badly.“I met with Mikey and the fact is Mikey is not the kind of guy to say something for the heck of it,” Schaefer said. “When he said he wanted to fight Spence and that it was the fight that motivated him and excited him, he was serious. He takes pride in winning these world titles, but if you are one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world you want these big events and big challenges. For Mikey to get motivated after already having achieved so much, he really wants to test himself. He wants to dare to be great and the fight with Spence is the fight he told me he wants to pursue and that’s the fight we are pursuing.”While Garcia would have to move up in weight in order to fight Spence, it would certainly be a crowd-pleasing bout between two of the sport’s brightest up-and-coming stars.Spence Jr last fought in June where he knocked out Carlos Ocampo of Mexico with a brutal body shot at the sold-out Dallas Cowboy training facility.Also Read-Boxing: Boxing Superstar Ryan Garcia will be back in Action on September 1