Middletown South A lli Podmajersky, who has complemented Allison Nolan, will lead the way on the mound this season as Middletown High School South’s rebuilding softball team will look to continue its success of past seasons.“We have a young team, and we’re inexperienced against pressure and being in those positions,” said coach Tom Erbig, who brings a 651-201-1 career record over 32 seasons, all but one at Middletown South. (The first one was a 17-11 record at Allentown High School.)Middletown South opens its season on April 1 at Middletown High School North.Podmajersky is part of a nucleus that will look to carry the hitting, along with veterans Abbey Schultz, a senior third baseman who has been batting cleanup, and juniors Grace Heller in center field and Veronica Zega at catcher.They’ll look to help settle the Eagles by filling the gaping holes left by Nolan, who graduated and is now at Rowan University; second baseman Alex Giacinto, who is at Lafayette College; first baseman Erica Falvey, who is at George Mason University; and right fielder Taylor Landis, who is running on the track-and-field team at Caldwell College.“It’s really hard filling those shoes,” Erbig said. “It’s just a different product. We’re younger, smaller and inexperienced, but the players have been working hard.”Sophomore Alex Corrigan, who goes from left field to shortstop, senior Megan Mittzenzwei, who is playing at first base, and senior Karinne Kely, who plays at second base and third base, will bring in some experience from last year’s 21-6 team. Last year, Middletown South saw its season end with a 1-0 loss to East Brunswick High School in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV championship game. Corrigan played some innings at shortstop last season.Middletown South, a perennial section finalist in Group IV, moves into Group III this season, but Erbig said it makes no difference. The only thing that falls to Middletown South’s advantage is that most teams in Shore Conference A North, which it won again last season, are Group IV schools. That will help the Eagles get a good seed based on the power-points system. “We’re getting good, solid pitching from Podmajersky. The only thing suspect right now is our offense,” Erbig said, as Podmajersky throws a wide variety of pitches, including a screwball, fastball, riser and changeup.That was an issue with the Eagles last season. And when they did hit, it sometimes was not timely. In a 4-3 Monmouth County Tournament championship game loss to St. John Vianney High School, a perennial showdown between those two teams in the tournament finals, the Eagles had a 9-3 edge in hits. Middletown South also lost its Shore Conference Tournament opener to Manalapan High School.“We couldn’t capitalize and get big hit — the same thing as all year long,” Erbig said after the EastBrunswick loss. “We had a couple of hits squandered at times in some big games. In general, we didn’t blow games open when we had the opportunities.”Erbig said that remains a concern at this juncture as well. He also has been working at improving the team’s base-running, which was a problem last season.Erbig has plenty of prospects from the sophomore class that were regarded last year as the strongest incoming freshmen class in many years at the school — perhaps ever. From that group, outfielder Julian Bell is hitting well enough to earn ample innings and maybe a starting spot. Tiffani Lambert pitched very well when she took the mound in limited action last season, particularly a Monmouth County Tournament semifinals victory over Allentown the night before the championship loss to St. John Vianney.“The thing I like about this group is that they’re young but trying to do what we’re instructing them to do,” Erbig said. “They’re trying to learn the fine points and get rid of the flaws. They’re working to be better at everything they do, and they’re getting there.”Taylor Dreuer (outfield) and Erin Cotterell (second base) could also help.Junior Elizabeth Gulino adds to the depth in the outfield.Junior Hannah Milano, who transferred from St. John Vianney, could be the designated player. She can also play catcher and first base. Phoneix Starick can play second base or in the outfield.That versatility could help the Eagles if they go deep into the season again and some players may be battling slumps. BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent
By Julien PretotGael Monfils upset Roger Federer 6-1 6-4 6-3 to help France level the Davis Cup final with Switzerland 1-1 on Friday.After Stan Wawrinka gave the Swiss a 1-0 lead by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-2, Monfils was at his best against world number two Federer who has recently been hampered by back problems.The doubles will be played on Saturday, with the reverse singles on Sunday on the clay of the Pierre Mauroy stadium.France, who last lifted the trophy in 2001, are looking to win the Davis Cup for the 10th time while Switzerland are seeking their maiden title.Speaking to reporters, Tsonga rued a lack of crowd support as a record attendance could not bring the best out of the French number one.Some 2,500 Switzerland fans, among a 27,432 crowd, were frequently more vocal than the massed home support under the closed roof. “When the teams were introduced, they (the Switzerland fans) applauded Stan more than us, Roger more than us. We heard the Swiss spectators more than we heard the French ones,” a dejected Tsonga told a news conference.“Stan, for example, announced that the ball was out, and it was in. I just went to check the mark, and I was booed in my own country – maybe not by the French spectators but by the Swiss spectators. It’s annoying.”Tsonga, however, did little to spark cheers from the crowd with an uninspiring display in the face of a fired-up Wawrinka, who peppered the court with winners.“We need to go and get the enthusiasm of the French crowd by the quality of our game,” Tsonga added.“It’s because I was not winning today maybe that this happened. I’m hoping that for the next matches it’s going to change.”Wawrinka said that the configuration of the arena, with many of the seats close to the court reserved for VIPs, might have played a role in muting the home support, especially since the Swiss fans were closer to the action.“I think because of the match maybe we were having more support from the Swiss people than the French guys,” he said.“I think it’s tough to get all the noise from the people really upstairs.”Yet Wawrinka said that his performance was the main reason for the dampened atmosphere.“They didn’t have the chance to do something for him,” he said.“I think it’s maybe a little bit easy for him to say the crowd wasn’t supporting him enough. I think it’s just because on the court I was the better player and that’s it.”
By Greg StutchburyTop seed Serena Williams fought off a barking cough to clinch her 19th grand slam singles title with a 6-3 7-6(5) victory over Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open final on Saturday.Williams’ sixth title at Melbourne Park moved her into a tie with fellow American Helen Wills Moody in third on the all-time list after she joined Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert on 18 at last year’s US Open.Only Australia’s Margaret Court (24) and Germany’s Steffi Graf (22), who holds the record for the Open era, have more grand slam singles titles than the 33-year-old American.“Growing up, I wasn’t the richest, but I had a rich family in spirit and support,” Williams said at the trophy presentation. “Standing here with 19 championships is something I never thought would happen.“I went on the courts with a ball and racquet and hope and that’s all I had.“I’m so honoured to be here tonight and to hold this 19th trophy.”Williams had not lost to Sharapova since the 2004 WTA Finals, a run of 15 successive victories and was not about to let the Russian end that streak on Saturday.The tone of the match was set in the first game when Williams broke the Russian’s serve.Even though rain forced them off court for 12 minutes as officials closed the roof in the sixth game, the American was not bothered by the disruption as she reeled off the next six points to establish a 5-2 lead after they returned.Williams sealed the first set when she broke Sharapova for the third time and then continued her momentum in the second with a powerful service game while she put pressure on the Russian’s serve.Sharapova battled to stay in the match and did have chances to break, but Williams simply reached back and smashed down a succession of massive serves to get out of trouble.She sealed victory in the tiebreak on her third match point when she powered down her 18th ace and then celebrated at the net after shaking hands with the Russian.“I’ve got to congratulate Serena on creating history and on playing some of her best tennis,” Sharapova said.“I haven’t beaten her in a really long time, but I love every time that I step on the court to play against her because she’s been the best and, as a tennis player, you want to play against the best.“So congratulations on an incredible achievement.”
West Ham United’s first game in their new London Olympic Stadium home will be a friendly against Italian club Juventus on August 7, the Premier League club said on Monday.The club leaves the Boleyn Ground, their home since 1904, at the end of the season after agreeing a 99-year lease with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) to rent the London 2012 centrepiece for a reported 2.5 million pounds per season.“We are delighted to be marking such a monumental day in West Ham United’s history by welcoming one of the world’s biggest clubs to our fantastic new home,” joint-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold said in a statement.“It was always our intention to open the new 60,000-capacity Stadium on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with a fixture fitting of the occasion, and the visit of the reigning Italian champions Juventus is most certainly that.”Premier League club West Ham’s move to the stadium, built at a cost of around 500 million pounds, has drawn criticism after details of their rental agreement were revealed recently.West Ham paid 15 million pounds towards a 270-million-pound re-fit of the stadium, which will also host next year’s IAAF world athletics championships. But they will not be responsible for running costs such as maintaining the pitch, goalposts, floodlights or even pest control and turnstiles.West Ham will make performance-related payments to the LLDC, rising to 100,000 pounds should they win the league and a further 100,000 pounds if they win the FA Cup.
European football’s governing body UEFA said it was reviewing security for Wednesday’s Champions League matches and would increase it where necessary, a day after explosions hit the Borussia Dortmund team bus.Tuesday’s match was called off after the blasts, which damaged the vehicle en route to the stadium for the German side’s clash with AS Monaco.UEFA said in a statement there had been no specific intelligence regarding any threat to Wednesday’s matches.They include the rescheduled Dortmund/Monaco game, while Bayern Munich are due to host Real Madrid in Germany with Atletico Madrid at home to Leiceister City in Spain.Four ties in the secondary Europa League competition are due to be played Thursday with matches in Lyon, Amsterdam, Brussels and the Spanish city of Vigo.“UEFA – in co-operation with the police, security services, stadium management and the clubs involved – is reviewing the security arrangements for tonight’s matches and security procedures will be enhanced accordingly wherever needed,” it said.Giorgio Marchetti, UEFA’s competitions director, told Reuters television that it was the first such incident the European football body had to deal with.“And no, we have not received any information regarding this type of attack, prior to the match,” he said at UEFA headquarters.“We have already asked the clubs to review, with the police, their security arrangements and measures to guarantee the safety and security of all those involved today and also tomorrow.”He said that there would be “more body searches” at the Dortmund game.“Backpacks will not be admitted into the stadium, there will be restriction for the car parking and of course, more stewards and more policemen around.”
They defeated Huawei PS United 3-1 today at Bisini Soccer Grounds in round four of the Southern Conference despite trailing at half time 1-0.The boys in red struggled in the first half and were scoreless but made an amazing turnaround in the second half to score three goals.The first goal was scored through Joshua Oscar 13 minutes into the second half.Huawei PS made simple mistakes with plenty of missed passes.Their weak defence gave the opportunity to Rapatona to score their second goal and make it 2-1, headed into the net by Patrick Aisa 87 minutes into the game. Despite making several attempts, Huawei struggled to score as Rapatona beefed up attack,scoring their third goal to make it 3-1 through Peterson Elijah right in front of the net minutes to full time.Francis Tulem scored Huawei’s only goal 23 minutes into the first half. In other matches played yesterday (Saturday 12 Dec), Pom FC lost to competition leader Hekari United FC 2-0 and Erema FC beat Gigira Laitepo 3-1.In the Northern Conference, Goroka Gosiha FC thrashed Admiralty FC 3-0, Lae City Dwellers beat Besta United FC 3-0 and Madang FC drew with Welgris Morobe United 2-2.
The game between the PNG SP Hunters and the Tweed Heads Seagulls will be staged at the National Football Stadium, formerly known as the Lloyd Robson Oval.Tickets for the games started selling late Tuesday afternoon at K25 for the outer stand and K50 for the grand stand at all Stop N Shop outlets in the city: North Waigani, Central Waigani, Rainbow, Badili, Boroko, Town, Airways SNS Express and Deloitte Tower SNS Express.An SNS shop assistant at Boroko told Loop PNG that since late Tuesday afternoon when the tickets arrived, they sold over 300 tickets in a matter of minutes.“There are about a total of 15,000 tickets that are on sale throughout the outlets and they are selling out fast,” she said.“Since this morning, people have lined up to buy more and so far, more than a hundred people have bought the outer stand tickets,” she added.Hopefully by tomorrow, all tickets will be sold out as outer stand tickets are selling like hot cakes while grand stand tickets are going at a slower pace, the assistant said.The gates will open at 3.30pm and close at 6.45pm before the game kicks off at 7pm.
They will play seven matches in USA against some of the US university teams, including last year’s national champions.The team had their first friendly against the US U-20 women’s team during the Tri-Nations match in May in Port Moresby where US defeated them 10-0.They also travelled to Korea for a friendly in June and hope to have more friendly matches after the US trip within the region to get them ready.PNG U-20 women’s coach Lisa Cole said over the last 6 months, the players have been training hard to prepare themselves for this challenge.”Taking on the best in the world when you have yet to even compete as a team in other events is a difficult task for these young players but they have taken on the challenge, left their homes and families to represent their country in this first ever World Cup in PNG,” Cole said.She said the PNG U-20 team began to prepare for the U-20 Women’s World Cup in February of this year and so far, the girls have played in only five games up to this point.”You will get our best come the games but remember, a result would be a miracle in comparison to the investment and experience of those other teams that have earned the right to play on the world’s stage.”
Southern Confederation administrator, Indy Verena, said training started as of August 8th at Apex Park at Boroko.The women’s squad, as well as the under 20s, is dominated by Port Moresby Rugby League players.Verena put that down to experience from the city side, saying they want to send the best players to compete in the championships.Meantime, trials for the Senior men’s division started on August 5th and ended on the 7th.A 26-man team has also been selected, with training starting this afternoon.The date of the championships as well as the venue are yet to be confirmed by the PNG Rugby Football League.(Men’s final day of trials between POM South, in blue, and UPNG)
Island Express Helicopters was limited to operating when the pilot was able to see clearly when flying.The pilot reportedly had the federal certification to fly the helicopter relying only on cockpit instruments.However he is likely to have had little experience in doing so, experts say.This was due to him being restricted by the company’s licensing.The cause of the crash in foggy weather west of Los Angeles is still being investigated. Bryant was on his way to coach his daughter’s basketball team in a local youth tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy.Meanwhile, on Friday the Lakers played their first game since Bryant’s death, going up against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples Center in LA.The team paid tribute to Bryant by warming up wearing his numbers – 8 and 24 – while thousands of fans chanted, “Kobe, Kobe!”Singer Usher then began a formal tribute by singing Amazing Grace, flanked by bouquets in the shape of the numbers 8 and 24.Paying tribute to the icon, Lakers star LeBron James told the crowd: “The fact that I’m here now means so much to me.”I’m going to continue with my teammates to continue his legacy not only for this year but as long as we can continue to play the game of basketball that we love, because that’s what Kobe Bryant would want.”