JACKSON-The Jackson Liberty Lions are looking to bounce back to their 2016 glory when the team finished the season 21-5 (12-2 conference), clinching the B-South title and a second place finish in the Shore Conference Tournament. That same year, Liberty knocked off the currently #2 state-ranked Donovan Catholic team 9-7 in the Ocean County Tournament.
Last year, the Lions finished the regular season with a 12-8 record.
This year the Lions enter the season without senior starting pitcher Meghan Conroy and will rely heavily on Junior DJ Diodato to be the workhorse in the circle. Coach Laura Borrelli will head into the season with a young and talented squad full of underclassmen. Returning players in 2017 include Juniors Kaylee Book (3B), Kayla Hayes (2B), Sophomore Emily Sanbeg (LF) and Illiana Flores (1B-3B). Junior Heather Tsapp will be the catcher for the team this year.
Junior Marissa Southon (OF/IF) will join the Lions after two seasons at Millville High School. Joining the Lions this year are freshmen Erin Stilton (1B-P), Ashleigh Tavaska (SS-P) and Emily Dubiago (CF).
The three freshman, along with Sanbeg helped to make up the core team of the 2016 McAuliffe Lions Middle School championship team.
Tavaska, the starting pitcher for the middle school the prior two seasons will pitch in relief of Diodato along with Stilton. This year, Liberty will have a tough schedule as the Lacey Lions dropped from A-South to B-South division and they will have to face the #2 New Jersey ranked Donovan Catholic twice in conference showdowns.
The Lions this season will play out of division games against Southern Regional, Toms River North, Barnegat, Toms River South and Raritan.