For Marlboro High School seniors, softball became a sisterhood

It may not have been a storybook ending for the Marlboro Mustangs' seniors, who fell to Point Pleasant Borough, 6-4, on their senior night and final game of the season. However, softball was more than just the final score for the group of eight who are graduating this spring. As they took the field for one last time together, they, along with their parents, reminisced about growing up, from Little League to travel to high school varsity.

Over their time in high school, the seniors overcame obstacles, such as losing playing time due to COVID-19. But this group was special and continued to band together and persevere, having each other's backs when they needed someone to lean on.

Senior pitcher Ashley Fhima almost turned away from softball before her final season but is glad she stuck with it.

"I think the saddest part of it all is that we all grew up together and this is the last of it," she told Jersey Sporting News. "These girls have been my sisters since I was five and now that it's over, it's really sad."

After missing a season and having a tumultuous middle of the 2022 season, Fhima is proud of how the Mustangs bounced back.

"We really persevered this year. We fell a little short with losses in the middle of the season, but we came back and had a winning streak which was phenomenal."

For Fhima, softball taught her never to give up. The sport she and her teammates grew up with taught her amazing life lessons she wouldn't trade for anything else.

As Fhima stepped into the pitcher's circle for one last time as a Mustang, her father, Ira Fhima, watched from the sidelines to support the group of seniors he had watched play since they were children.

"It's bittersweet," he said on the end of an era. "It's been a long run, a great run, but definitely emotional. Many of them have played together since they were kids. They have long-lasting friendships. We've seen them grow up and mature and it's difficult to see it end. You never really want to see it end but that's the way life is, and you have to move on to the next chapter."

For Marisa Kramer, softball taught her about time management and how to foster relationships.

"I definitely learned the importance of being open-minded, positive, and supportive. Everyone feeds off positive energy and it's great to see the results from that," Kramer said.

While some seniors will be hanging up their cleats and gloves, two have committed to playing in college. Camryn Coates is heading to DeSales University in Pennsylvania, while Ally Hochstadter will play for Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

Coates told Jersey Sporting News that her love for the game resulted in her committing to play softball for the next five years at DeSales.

Though missing playing time was difficult for some to grapple with when COVID struck, Coates said the team didn't falter.

"It definitely had an impact but being in the sisterhood that we have been in our entire lives growing up together, we gelled together as quickly as we could," Coates said.

Marlboro head coach Nick Scalzo has been at the helm of Mustangs' softball for 14 seasons. He told Jersey Sporting News that this group of seniors was different because of their fighting spirit and how they overcame adversity during their high school softball careers.

Scalzo hopes his players take something more significant than the game away with them as they embark on their next journey after Marlboro High School.

"Life will throw you curve balls and it's not about getting knocked down, it's about walking forward. And these kids have dealt with that in softball and hopefully that will help them in their life," he said. "It's been a pleasure. I wish them the best in the future, and they'll be missed."

What's Next for the Marlboro Seniors

Samantha Bajar: Undecided, Brookdale Community College

Sierra Bonilla: Exercise Science, Rutgers University

Camryn Coates: Digital Forensics, DeSales University

Madeline DiStefano: Early Education, Brookdale Community College

Ashley Fhima: Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey

Ally Hochstadter: Physical Therapy, Quinnipiac University

Marisa Kramer: Computer Science, University of Michigan

Alyson Levito: Pharmacy, University of Rhode Island