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Great school year produces great winners

Joey Phillips scored a goal in penalty kicks and then made the winning save in the Catholic League championship game. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Is it really the end of the school year already?

Just about! And this year was a great one for athletes competing in Northeast Philadelphia. Just as the fall and winter seasons were successful ones, it looks like we’re on pace to have some great celebrations in the spring.

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Today, we’ll announce the spring award winners, along with our overall winners. All honorees will be celebrated May 11 at the FOP at 6 p.m. at the Northeast Times annual sports banquet.

SPRING AWARDS

BASEBALL

Catholic League Player of the Year

Dave Rodriguez

Father Judge

The Crusaders sit at 11-0 overall, 6-0 in league play and are the only undefeated in the Catholic League. One of the big reasons for that is their ace pitcher, a junior who also won the award last year.

He has more than done his part, maintaining a 0.20 earned run average. In 35.2 innings, he’s allowed just one earned run and has 41 strikeouts.

This performance comes a year after he was named Pitcher of the Year by the Catholic League.

Public League Player of the Year

Braedyn Clinton

Franklin Towne Charter

The Warriors are quietly enjoying a great season, and it starts with their starting center fielder.

The junior leads Franklin Towne in hits with 15, doubles and triples with three each, stolen bases with 11, and second in both runs (11) and RBIs (9).

He also leads the team with a .536 batting average and a .964 slugging percentage. On top of being a great offensive player, Clinton is one of the best defensive outfielders in the Public League.

The Warriors are 6-3 overall, 5-0 in league play, which will give them the edge heading into the playoffs.

Coach of the year

Mike Metzger

Father Judge

The Crusaders came into the season with a talented squad led by a top pitcher. But winning in the Catholic League doesn’t come easy. Every day, you run up against a top team, and no matter who it is, Metzger and the Crusaders have been up to the challenge.

Judge is 6-0 in PCL play, 11-0 overall.

He’s also done a great job in dealing with his pitching staff, limiting his ace’s pitch count, and keeping him and the entire staff fresh for the postseason.

Finishing atop the Catholic League during the regular season allows teams to set up their pitching staffs for the playoffs, so Judge’s fast start could go a long way in helping them enjoy a successful postseason run.

Sabrina Pastino is one of the top hitters in the Catholic League. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

SOFTBALL

Catholic school Player of the Year

Sabrina Pastino

Archbishop Ryan

Whenever the Ragdolls need a big hit, it seems their senior comes through.

A First-Team All-Catholic selection a season ago, Pastino has helped Ryan get off to a hot start in Catholic League play. After dropping their opener, the Ragdolls have recovered to win their next two to put them near the top of the Catholic League standings.

Also the captain and leader of the team, Pastino gives Ryan flexibility. She’s able to play the outfield and both corner infield positions.

The Ragdolls are among the favorites to win the Catholic League championship this year.

Aubrey Seider is the ace of the staff for Franklin Towne. PHOTO: FRANKLIN TOWNE CHARTER

Public League Player of the Year

Aubrey Seider

Franklin Towne Charter

The Warriors are the team to beat in Public League softball, having already knocked off Central and Philadelphia Academy Charter already, and their pitcher has had a hand in all of their victories.

Seider, a junior, is once again one of the top pitchers in the area. She’s thrown all 25 innings this season for the Warriors, and has yet to give up an earned run. She’s pitched 21 scoreless innings in a row and has struck out 60 hitters while walking just five.

She also gets it done at the plate, hitting .909 with 11 RBIs and eight runs.

Franklin Towne remains unbeaten and should be a tough out when the weather grows warmer, both in the Public League tournament and potentially the state tournament.

Coach of the year

Skyler Petroski

Franklin Towne Charter

It’s not a bad year for the first-year head coach.

The Warriors are undefeated in Public League play, and could continue this run throughout the regular season and into the playoffs.

A former player for the Warriors and assistant coach last year, Petroski has guided the Warriors past Central in a 1-0 sloberknocker. The Warriors then showed what they can do offensively when they knocked off Philadelphia Academy Charter 11-1.

Franklin Towne hasn’t won a Public League championship since it went back to back in 2017 and 2016, but there’s a good chance that changes this year.

OVERALL 

Holy Family Male Athlete

Sean Touey

Men’s Soccer

This season wrapped up quite the career for the Abington High School grad who ended his Tigers career on a great note. A three-time CACC All-Academic Team member, the forward made All-CACC First Team as a senior. He also made the CSC Academic All-District team and last year won the ADA Academic Achievement Award.

Touey started all 20 games he played in this year and ended the season with eight goals and four assists.

This year the Tigers won a tournament game to advance to the CACC semifinal for a fourth straight season. Holy Family won nine games in conference play and 12 games overall.

Holy Family Female Athlete 

Brianna Pudlo 

Women’s Soccer

While going for her MBA, the Holy Family graduate student from St. Hubert enjoyed quite the career.

For the second year in a row, she won the CACC Goalkeeper of the Year award, and this year she also made the CACC All-Tournament team.

Pudlo started 18 games and allowed just 13 goals. She ended the season with five victories and a 0.73 goals against average. She also ranked eighth in the nation with an .874 save percentage and made five saves per game.

Her best stat? She maintains a perfect 4.0 grade point average in grad school.

Special achievement

Juan Namnun

Frankford

Namnun is no stranger to winning. He’s one of the most decorated coaches in Public League baseball history and he’s never one to duck a challenge.

But better than any Public League championship, better than knocking off a Catholic League team in the district finals or a District One team in states is the battle Namnun won last year.

Namnun beat breast cancer. It forced him to the sidelines over the summer, but he attacked it head on.

While beating the deadly disease, he still found time to help his three sons, all football players. He also recovered in time to get back coaching Frankford this spring.

The St. Hubert varsity cheerleading team. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Special achievement

Lisa McNesby

St. Hubert

Winning a Catholic League championship is pretty special. And the Bambies did that this year. But that was just the beginning of their incredible year that included both the varsity team and the JV Gold team winning national championships in Orlando.

The Bambies are routinely the top cheerleading team in the Catholic League and are always in contention for a national championship.

McNesby has led Hubert to nine national championships during her coaching tenure. She also has done a great job of sending cheerleaders to continue their craft in college.

Erin Smith not only plays field hockey and softball, she’s a Muay Thai fighter.

Most Courageous Athlete 

Erin Smith

George Washington

If there’s ever a challenge, the Washington senior is always ready to tackle it.

A captain and leader on the Eagles softball and field hockey teams, Smith would often be a coach on the field, helping younger players in her sports. That’s one of the main reasons she was picked to be a captain.

But Smith is tough away from high school too. She’s a trained mixed martial artist, and despite standing about 5 feet tall. She’s trained in karate and Muay Thai, and hopes to box next year in college.

Steven Leslie is one of the top bowlers in the Public League. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Sportsmanship Award

Steven Leslie

Abraham Lincoln

Nobody has done more for their sport and team than Steven Leslie has done for the Abraham Lincoln bowling team.

He’s the best bowler in the Public League, and this year, he helped lead a bunch of new bowlers and some talented veterans on the Railsplitters to their second straight Public League championship.

As one of the best bowlers in the state, he also acted as a coach on the lanes, giving tips to his younger teammates.

This year, despite leading the Public League in pins, he may have helped his teammates more with his words of advice than his bowling.

Leslie hopes to continue his bowling career next year and eventually become a professional.

Michael McCusker scored 12 goals this year for Judge. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Most Dedicated

Mike McCusker

Father Judge

Playing two varsity sports isn’t easy.

It’s even harder when your first sport includes a deep run in the postseason like the Crusaders soccer team had this year. But McCusker made sure to help Judge win in soccer, but was ready for basketball when the winter season arrived.

During the fall, McCusker helped lead Judge to the Catholic League championship game and a run in the state tournament before rejoining the basketball team, where he led the Crusaders to a much improved season.

Next year, he hopes to continue his soccer career, and intends on majoring in nursing.

Jenna Garzone has helped Nazareth advance to the second round of the PIAA tournament. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Leadership Award

Jenna Garzone

Nazareth Academy

When the Pandas were in their run of winning a district championship and causing chaos in the state playoffs, Nazareth started five sophomores.

But the one thing all of those kids agreed on was Garzone was the leader of the team.

When the younger players needed any advice, she was there. And she didn’t mind coming off the bench, and when she did, she helped the Pandas a lot.

Garzone is more than just a basketball player. She was also a leader on the soccer team and is currently a captain on the lacrosse team. She’s also a leader away from sports.

Garzone is the secretary of the senior class and is also the vice president of Nazareth’s Athletes Helping Athletes, an organization that matches special-needs individuals with high school athletes. She’s also in the National Honor Society, and part of the presidential ambassadors, which shows prospective students around the school.

Zaire Paris

Unsung Hero

Zaire Paris

Archbishop Ryan

The Raiders had a spectacular season. The team played an insanely difficult preseason, then finished third in a very competitive Catholic League. Ryan then finished that up by advancing to the semifinals of the state playoffs.

It was a great season, and Ryan had two First-Team All-Catholic selections in Thomas Sorber and Darren Williams.

Ryan has its share of stars, but one player who always flew under the radar was Paris, a senior guard who did whatever Ryan needed.

Paris was a great player, getting Second-Team All-Catholic, but if you ask anyone on the team, they’ll tell you he was one of the most important pieces in this year’s success.

His goal is to continue his basketball career next year.

Spirit Award

Alyssa Cooper

St. Hubert

It takes a lot of spirit to be a cheerleader. Even more when you’re one of the cheerleaders who led St. Hubert to a national championship. But that’s exactly what Cooper, a four-year varsity cheerleader, did this year for the Bambies.

The Bambies ended up winning two national championships this year, and Cooper played a massive role in the varsity team emerging victorious.

Also a member of the school’s flag football team, Cooper loves Hubert and serves as a Bambi Ambassador, promoting the school to future Bambies.

Cooper will continue her cheerleading career next year when she goes to the University of Delaware.

Teammate of the Year

Jarrett Lalli

Archbishop Ryan

When soccer games were at their biggest, Lalli was the man for Ryan, scoring in big spots including one that helped the Raiders beat La Salle in the Catholic League semifinals, and then he scored in penalty kicks during the Catholic League championship game.

But that’s not why Lalli was so popular among his team. He was the straw that stirs the drink for the Catholic League champions.

He’s a four-year starter, captain and member of the National Honor Society, and when the Raiders found themselves in a tough spot, they always turned to Lalli.

Next year, he’ll continue his career on an academic and athletic scholarship at Holy Family.

Labrant “Deuce” Davis has Holy Ghost Prep in the final four of the District 1 Class 3A soccer tournament.
Robert Barnes/Pro Action Sports

Northeast Philadelphian Award (Male)

Labrant “Deuce” Davis

Holy Ghost Prep

The Firebirds are known for having a great soccer program, and this year they leaned heavily on a Northeast resident.

Davis, a senior left wing, scored seven goals and added four assists this year, helping Holy Ghost reach the final four of the District One 3A playoffs.

While soccer is his main sport, he’s also been having a terrific season in track. He hit a school record in the 60-meter race, finishing in 7.36.

Despite being a two-sport star, he still finds plenty of time for his studies, and is one of the top students in the school.

He hopes to continue his athletic career in college. He’s deciding between working with animals or being a journalist after graduation.

Sara Hogan helped Central win the Public League and District 12 soccer championships. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Northeast Philadelphia Award (Female)

Sara Hogan

Central

Listing Sara Hogan’s resume isn’t really possible. Pretty much, the Holmesburg resident does everything you can imagine at Central.

She is a star center midfielder on the Lancers soccer team, an undersized, but crafty power forward on the school’s basketball team and a pitcher on the softball team. She’s also the kicker on the school’s football team, going 19-for-19 on PATs.

This year, her top sport was probably soccer. As the top player, she helped the Lancers win a Public League championship and then a District 12 championship for the second year in a row. This year, Central topped Archbishop Carroll 5-3.

Brooks Henderson plays golf and baseball for Judge. PHOTO: Dave Picariello

Male scholar athlete

Brooks Henderson

Father Judge

The Crusaders baseball team has been one of the best in the area. The team has had its share of great pitchers, but they’re also strong up the middle thanks to the play of middle infielder Henderson.

Henderson is hitting .333 for Judge with 10 hits and 10 runs scored. He also has two RBIs and has belted three doubles for the first-place Crusaders.

His numbers in the classroom are even more impressive. He’s ranked in the top 10 percent of his senior class.

Next year he’ll go to Lackawanna College in Scranton and is leaning toward majoring in either sports medicine or physical therapy.

Carly Walsh and the Archbishop Ryan girls soccer team are in the PCL semifinals once again. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Female scholar athlete

Carly Walsh

Archbishop Ryan

Walsh has been a contributor to the Ryan varsity soccer program since she arrived as a freshman, and she racked up quite the career.

Also a track athlete, Walsh helped the Ragdolls reach the Catholic League semifinals this year, one year after the team advanced to the championship game. Ryan also excelled during the state tournament, winning two games.

As great of an athlete as she is, she’s a better student. She’s ranked in the top 20 of her senior class, is a member of Athletes Helping Athletes, is an ambassador for the school, is on student council and National Honor Society, and she attends classes at Chestnut Hill College as a member of the Diocesan Scholar Program.

She’s bound for Kutztown University, where she plans on majoring in Allied Health.

Meghan Scott won the District One Class AA Diving championship at North Penn High School, scoring 435.25 points, which is good enough to help her qualify for the PIAA state championship. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Female Athlete of the Year

Meghan Scott 

Nazareth Academy

You could say it was a great first year for the Nazareth senior diver. After focusing on indoor track for the first three winters of her high school career, Scott, a former gymnast, joined the diving team. While she dove for her club team before, this was the first seasons she dove for Nazareth. She ended up winning the District One Class AA Diving championship, scoring 435.25 points, which helped her qualify for the state meet. There, diving against some of the best in Pennsylvania, she finished in fourth place.

Once diving season was over, she returned to the track team to compete in the outdoor season. There, she’s a sprinter. She’s also been named the school valedictorian for her senior class.

Next year she’s bound for Villanova, where she will continue her diving career.

Male Athlete of the Year

Joey Phillips

Archbishop Ryan

In the biggest moments of the biggest game of the year, the Raiders goalie couldn’t have come up bigger. He blasted the go-ahead goal during penalty kicks and then made it stand up by making a save against Father Judge, giving Ryan the Catholic League championship.

For the past four years, he’s been one of the best goalies in the Catholic League, and has helped Ryan’s stingy defense every season. Previous seasons produced playoff wins, but this was the first time in 19 years the Raiders won the Catholic League championship.

While soccer is his main sport, he also helped out the football team by serving as a placekicker on Thanksgiving, and he blasted a field goal. And in the spring, Phillips is a star on the Raiders volleyball team.

Next year, he’ll continue his soccer career at Millersville.

All winners will receive free tickets to the banquet. Family members and friends can buy tickets.

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