Catholics on top in interdenominational softball competition

Catholics on top in interdenominational softball competition


Members of the St. Rose of Lima Softball team from Haddon Heights celebrate their victory.  Back Row: Peter Sanchez, Travis Lawmaster, Steve Vandenberg, Melissa Zimmerman, Zach Knopka, Jack Brady, Paul Franzonia, J.D. Hull.  Front Row: Adam Knopka, Nicole Quail, Vincent Cerrito, Mario Cerrito (with trophy), Steve Weiss, Steve Tumolo, and Father Thanh Pham. Not pictured: Stephanie Smaldore, Valerie Eilers, Chris Eilers, Lauren Waida, Dan Waida, Michelle Fox, and Amanda Coyle.

PENNSAUKEN — Maybe it’s the red and white uniforms. Or could it be something in the water?

Whatever the cause, the St. Rose of Lima Parish softball team from Haddon Heights made like the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies, capturing their respective championship on Monday night, July 27, at Bannard Park in Pennsauken.

The team finished ahead of the seven other teams in the Fellowship Church League, which includes church groups from Presbyterian, Catholic and Lutheran denominations. They played at the home field of the defending champions, Martin Luther Chapel, and outlasted them 7-1.

What makes their win more remarkable is that the team didn’t exist in its current form when the season started in May.

St. Rose of Lima started the season with over 30 players, too many for all to get enough playing time at the plate and on the field. Thus, two games into the season, the St. Rose of Lima squad was split into two competing teams, St. Rose of Lima 1 and St. Rose of Lima 2.

SRL2, as it was called, had to develop chemistry during the season. Starting the season a mediocre 5-6-1 (the tie due to darkness), they rattled off five straight wins, winning their last two regular-season games, and their three playoff games. The no. 4 seed knocked off Holy Communion Lutheran (no. 5 seed), Haddon Heights Presbyterian (no. 1 seed), and Martin Luther Chapel (no. 2 seed) to finish with the crown and a 10-6-1 record.

The schedule was grueling, with two games being played most weeks, and usually at least one practice a week. In one brutal stretch in the middle of June, the team played three straight games on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The championship win “showed great fellowship, solidarity among the players, all striving to do their best,” remarked general manager Father Thanh Pham, parochial vicar at St. Rose of Lima, who also thanked parishioners for coming out to the games during the season and showing their support.

With a nine-month break until next season, St. Rose of Lima 2 gets a well-deserved rest after a season of hard work. With tentative plans to practice in the offseason, though, during the winter and spring, the team realizes it now has a bullseye on its back as the team to beat next year, and is prepared to defend its title.


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