Ravens softball wins state championship for second time in three years

Photo by ELANE COLEMAN/Special to The Sun The Ravens celebrate after defeating Hanover Park 3-1 to win the NJSIAA Group II State Championship in Toms River on June 9.

Photo by ELANE COLEMAN/Special to The Sun
The Ravens celebrate after defeating Hanover Park 3-1 to win the NJSIAA Group II State Championship in Toms River on June 9.

Christine Levering was determined to get the celebration right this time.

The senior second baseman had been a part of the Robbinsville High School softball team that won the Group II state championship in 2011, and the Ravens celebration then was relatively subdued.

“Every year at the end, we’re not known for the best celebrations,” Levering said. “We cheer for a second and we’re done because we feel bad for the seniors on the other team. We wanted to make a quick dog pile before the handshake this time.”

Levering has been a part of a few dog piles in her life, but all of them in soccer. When fellow senior Lauren Fischer fired a third strike to the only other Ravens senior, catcher Rebecca Freeman, the senior trio led a dog pile on the infield to celebrate their second state title in three years, a 3-1 win over Hanover Park on June 9.

“We could use some more practice, but I think it worked out,” Levering said of the celebration dog pile. “I ran over to Lauren and Becca and pulled them down and everyone jumped on.”

Susie Gearhart/Special to The Robbinsville Sun The Ravens celebrate in a dog pile that buried Lauren Fischer after she struck out the final Hanover Park batter to win the NJSIAA Group II State Championship game.

Susie Gearhart/Special to The Robbinsville Sun
The Ravens celebrate in a dog pile that buried Lauren Fischer after she struck out the final Hanover Park batter to win the NJSIAA Group II State Championship game.

With the win also came some mixed feelings for Levering. Unlike Fischer, who will continue playing softball at Seton Hall University, and Freeman, who will play at Marist College, there are not expected to be more softball games for Levering. It wasn’t just the end of an era for Robbinsville with the three key cogs graduating, it was the end of a career.

“That’s why it’s a lot harder for me,” Levering said. “I’m never playing softball again. I’ve played my whole life.”

Levering is headed to The College of New Jersey next fall, where the Lions women’s soccer team is looking forward to welcoming the high-scoring forward to its lineup. Before she turns her attention fully to soccer, she is enjoying the good feelings of another state softball crown.

“I think it was a lot different,” Levering said after the championship game. “Every year, we kind of played for our seniors because we knew it was their last year. This year, our underclassmen played for us. It was great that they played for us. We also really wanted to win.

“It was such a different feeling,” Levering said. “We knew we had to win and nothing was going to stop us. We had the instinct that nothing was going to get in our way to win this game.”

Hanover Park didn’t make it easy. It was scoreless until the third inning when Levering sacrificed Leanna Gearhart, who had doubled, to third base where Freeman drove her home with a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead. Hanover Park tied it up in the top of the fourth inning on three hits, but they would be the last off Fischer. Fischer led off the sixth inning with a home run to center field.

“I definitely knew that we were going to find a way to win,” Levering said. “I knew with Lauren coming up, she’s capable of doing anything. I was sitting next to Leanna Gearhart. A second before she hit it, I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if Lauren hit a home run?’”

Later in the sixth, the Ravens added an insurance run after Hannah Olshevski doubled for her second hit of the game, Megan Hevey singled, and Olshevski scored on an error.

“The whole game was nerve-wracking,” said Ravens head coach Christine Cabarle. “You do not want it to end for a group of girls any other way than them on top. In our huddle before the bottom of the sixth, I said, ‘Let’s make this our last huddle. Let’s not have another at bat.’ I guess they were on board with that.”

Photo by Susie Gearhart/Special to The Sun The Ravens softball team holds their NJSIAA Group II State Championship. Senior Christine Levering (first row, third from left) will be leaving her softball days behind to play soccer at The College of New Jersey in the fall.

Photo by Susie Gearhart/Special to The Sun
The Ravens softball team holds their NJSIAA Group II State Championship trophy. Senior Christine Levering (first row, third from left) will be leaving her softball days behind to play soccer at The College of New Jersey in the fall.

The win capped a season that saw Robbinsville go 26-2. They lost once early in the year in dreary conditions, then in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals, the latter loss pushing them all the harder to win the state tournament. After falling in last year’s state final, the Ravens captured the second championship in program history.

“Even though Fisch and Christine and Becca were there for the first one, it is a different team,” Cabarle said. “That makes it more special to be able to share it with more girls that I’ve coached.”

It was the perfect ending for Levering, something that she will treasure as she goes forward with her soccer career in college.

“I’ve won the state championship in soccer freshman year,” she said. “That was my first season of high school anything. It didn’t feel real. Now that it’s my last year of high school, I appreciate it even more. I’ve worked four years to get to this moment, and it’s amazing.”

 

 

 


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