Softball team aims to win sectional final

SPARTA. 13 returning varsity players is an advantage, coach says.

Sparta /
| 23 Mar 2024 | 01:31

All of the hard work during preseason practices and scrimmages is complete, and the Sparta High School softball team is ready for the regular season.

The Spartans are scheduled to open with a home game against Pope John on Monday, April 1.

“Goals for this season include winning the sectional final and making it to the NJSIAA group tournament,’’ head coach Gretchen Bowie said. “(We also want to) make it to the finals for our county tournament and win our division.’’

Key returning players include seniors Grace Conrad (pitcher, First Team American Division in 2023, 147 strikeouts and a 1.27 earned run average in 2023), Gabrielle Heim (pitcher and third base, Second Team American Division in 2023, 76 strikeouts, 2.23 ERA, .347 batting average and 16 RBIs in 2023) and Alexa Berry (catcher and first base, .361 batting average, 19 RBIs and three home runs in 2023).

“The whole team is valued: 13 returning varsity players (and) one sophomore was added to the roster this year,’’ Bowie said. “The girls have experienced the level of play before. Team totals are four seniors, eight juniors and two sophomores.”

The captains are Gabrielle Heim, Alexa Berry and Grace Conrad.

“Each player in a sense is a leader on the team due to being responsible for their ‘buddy,’ “ Bowie said. “We have established a buddy system, where the girls are matched up for the season with a player on the team. They are a ‘unit’ for the season and are to lead each other by example.’’

Last season, Sparta posted an overall record of 16-7, with a 6-5 record in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) American Division.

The Spartans advanced to the semifinal round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) North Jersey, Section 1, Group 3 Tournament before losing a one-run game to eventual sectional champion, Morris Knolls.

Sparta topped Leonia and Bergenfield by a combined score of 21-0 at the sectionals last spring.

This season, Sparta plays in the NJAC American Division along with Morris Knolls, Montville, Randolph, Roxbury and Pope John.

“We will be a contender this season within our division,’’ Bowie said. “The American Division is a very tough one. However, having 13 returning varsity players this year is a great advantage to have. We placed third in our division last year.

“Every player on the team brings their own expertise to each practice and games. It’s an athletic group of girls,” with many of them playing multiple sports.

The American Division is a very tough one. However, having 13 returning varsity players this year is a great advantage to have.’’
- Gretchen Bowie, head softball coach,
Sparta High School