BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer The Jersey Shore Carpenter Cup softball team coaches knew they had something special prior to the start of the competition that features allstar diamond squads from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Jersey Shore Carpenter Cup teammates (l-r) Brianna Murphy (Mater Dei), Bobbie Boehler (Raritan) and Samantha Strickland (Raritan) hold up the trophy the Jersey Shore girls won for capturing the Carpenter Cup championship at Franklin Roosevelt Park in Philadelphia. The Carpenter Cup is a tri-state competition (New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware) involving high school underclassmen. This was the second title in four years for the Jersey Shore team, which is made up of players from the Shore Conference. “Even before we played a game we could tell the girls were bonding,” said Aado Kommendant, an assistant coach for the Jersey Shore Carpenter Cup team. “Chemistry comes from winning, but (head coach) Tony Vidola said we had the reverse. We had chemistry before winning.” The Jersey Shore squad (made up of the best non-seniors from the Shore Conference) proved to be special and won the Carpenter Cup championship on June 29 at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in Philadelphia, Pa. The local all-stars defeated another New Jersey team, Olympic Colonial from South Jersey, 2- 1, in the championship game. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Jersey Shore stars scored twice. Brianna Murphy (Mater Dei) singled and stole second. Zoe Otterman (St. John Vianney) bunted Murphy to third and beat the throw to first base. With two out, Cassidy Brzozowski (Howell) walked to load the bases. Erica Falvey (Middletown South) then delivered a two-run single to center for a 2-1 lead. In the top of the seventh, pitcher Sarah Bencivenga (Toms River East) needed just eight pitches to retire Olympic Colonial in order to give Jersey Shore its second Carpenter Cup crown in the last four years. The previous title came in 2007. Jersey Shore marched through the 16-team, double-elimination tournament undefeated at 5-0 and played the minimum number of games needed to win the crown. The all-stars defeated Mercer County, 1-0, in eight innings in their first game. That same day they also beat Burlington County, 8-3. In the third game, Jersey Shore beat SOL American Continental, 8-6, to advance to the winner’s bracket, where they defeated Olympic Colonial, 2-1, in the fourth game. Olympic Colonial fell into the loser’s bracket and eventually advanced to meet Jersey Shore in the championship game. Kommendant said Jersey Shore’s extra-inning win over Mercer County in the first game was critical to the team’s success. Teams do not want to fall into the loser’s bracket after one game because of the number of games that must then be played just to get to the championship game. “That was the key game for us,” he said.A gainst Mercer County, the international tiebreaker softball rules were in effect for the eighth inning, meaning that the inning began with a runner on second base. As the visiting team, Mercer was up in the top of the eighth and advanced its runner to third base with less than two out. A fly ball to right field looked like it might score the run, however, Otterman’s strong arm kept the runner at bay and the game remained scoreless. In the bottom of the eighth, Brzozowski started the inning as the runner at second base. She moved to third on Otterman’s bunt single and scored on an infield single by Linnette Siedler (Jackson Liberty). With pitchers not allowed to throw more than four innings, Jersey Shore went with the rotation of Jordan Weed (Toms River East) starting and Jen Retzer (St. John Vianney) closing. The plan worked for the first four games of the tournament. Because rain pushed back the tournament schedule, neither Weed nor Retzer were able to play in the final due to other commitments, so the coaches turned to Samantha Strickland (Raritan) and Bencivenga for the title game. All they did was combine for a no-hitter. “No one had better pitching than we did,” said Kommendant, in an understatement. Forty-five girls from Shore Conference schools tried out for the Carpenter Cup team and 17 made the squad that went to Philadelphia. The hardest part for the coaches was selecting the final 17 players. From the start, Kommendant said, the girls knew they were playing for more than themselves. “They realized they represented the entire conference, the other girls who had tried out, their high schools and themselves,” he said. The players also had something else going for them: all of them came from winning programs. “These kids are used to winning and playing in big games,” said Kommendant. This was the fourth year that Vidola (the head coach at Wall High School), Kommendant and Brad Hanson have coached the Jersey Shore all-stars and they know what it takes to be successful in the tournament. “The key to the roster in flexibility, having players who are good at multiple positions,” he explained. Brzozowski is an example of what Kommendant was talking about. She played centerfield for Howell High School and second base for the Jersey Shore squad. She recorded the final two outs of the championships game. In addition to Bencivenga, Brzozowski, Falvey, Murphy, Otterman, Retzer, Siedler, Strickland and Weed, the players who made up the 2010 Carpenter Cup championship team from the Jersey Shore were Sydney Canessa (Wall), Sarah Kirk (Manasquan), Sam Marchetti (Wall), Kendall Miller (Manasquan), Bobbi Boehler (Raritan), Lauren Saal (Howell), Kathleen Sharp (Toms River East) and Corey Schwartz (Toms River East). Vidola’s staff included Kommendant (the head coach at Raritan High School), Hanson (assistant coach at Wall), Edward Lowe (the head coach at Brick Township High School) and Joe Mason (assistant coach at Brick Township). The Carpenter Cup is 25 years old this year. It began in 1986 and was named for former Philadelphia Phillies owners Bob and Ruly Carpenter. The event was designed to be a vehicle for the best baseball players in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware area. In 2005 the Carpenter Cup expanded to include a softball tournament. The softball teams are made up underclassmen and the competition allows the players to display their talents in front of college scouts.