Washington Township’s win ends historic playoff run by Atlantic City softball team

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By GIUSEPPE UNGARO Managing Editor WASHINGTON TWP. – The tears and red eyes behind their sunglasses also came with smiles. Although Atlantic City High School’s unexpected run through the sectional tournament came to an end with a 5-0 loss to defending champion Washington Township on Friday, the Vikings said they are proud of what they accomplished the past few weeks. The Vikings, the No. 16 seed, recorded three upsets just to make it to the South Jersey Group 4 finals. They played their best softball when it mattered, and they made history along the way. Despite the loss against perennial power Washington Township, reaching the final was the furthest any Atlantic City softball team has advanced. “It has been a crazy ride. It has been a lot of fun,” Atlantic City ace hurler Maddie Taggart said. “Everybody started playing as a team toward the end of the year. Everything came together.” Maddie Taggart and the Atlantic City softball team reached the South Jersey Group 4 championship game before falling 5-0 to Washington Township on Friday. (Glory Days Magazine file photo/Dave O'Sullivan) Maddie Taggart and the Atlantic City softball team reached the South Jersey Group 4 championship game before falling 5-0 to Washington Township on Friday. (Glory Days Magazine file photo/Dave O’Sullivan) “It was a great run,” Alina Marino said. “We started out not so great, but nobody gave up. We just kept going and made it here.” “Here” was playing for a sectional championship. This is a program that was 0-17 five years ago. A few weeks ago, they were under .500 and supposed to be an afterthought in the South Jersey Group 4 tournament. However, the Vikings knew all along they were better than a No. 16 seed. With Taggart back from injury, Atlantic City racked up wins late in the season to earn a postseason bid. In the playoffs alone, the Vikings upended No. 1. Kingsway, No. 9 Egg Harbor Township and No. 13 Cherry Hill West. After finishing with just five wins at the cut-off point, the Vikings won 10 consecutive games. The remarkable run came to an end at the hands of the Minutemaids, who won a state title a year ago. Washington Township ace Jenna Mills shut out the Vikings, allowing just four hits and two batters to reach second base while striking out five. Atlantic City’s best chance to make a statement was in the opening inning, as Marino and Taggart hit consecutive singles with one out. However, Mills was able to escape unscathed. “We have been scoring early in these (tournament) games to make them nervous and put their backs against the wall,” Atlantic City coach Jason Grimes said. “We had a chance in that first inning. It probably could have been a different game.” Cassidy Shea led off the seventh with a double, but Mills was able to register three straight outs to end the game. Washington Township scored its first run on a sacrifice fly after Atlantic City was careless with the ball in the infield. Jessica Hughes singled, stole second and moved to third when the Vikings let the ball get loose in the infield. Washington Township scored two more runs after an error in the fifth inning. Taggart ended the game with just two earned runs against her. “You can see the (big crowd) here, no one expected to roll up to see Atlantic City – the 16 seed – playing in the final,” Grimes said. “It didn’t go our way today.” However, the Vikings made it go their way the past three weeks. They even exceeded their own expectations. “I don’t think we expected to get this far, so it has been pretty awesome,” Taggart. Contact Giuseppe Ungaro:; on Twitter @GDgisepu [adsense]


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