By Matthew Rocco
The Raritan High School softball team will host the eighth annual Don’t Stop Believin Stephanie Coonan Softball Classic this weekend in honor of the former Rockets player.
The Rockets hold the event each year to remember Coonan, a softball co-captain and Raritan graduate who died of stomach cancer in 2009. The 2017 Coonan Classic, which includes a slate of three games, will be held April 22 starting at 10 a.m.
“Stephanie’s life, although short-lived, was truly impactful to all of her family and friends and one that will always be remembered in our hearts and mind,” the Hazlet school said.
Raritan head coach Marc Rosner, who’s in his first season at the helm, said the annual event shows “how great Raritan High School really is.”
“I’m grateful as a teacher, not just as a coach, to be part of a great community,” Rosner said. “It shows the tremendous passion and pride that the community of Hazlet has. It’s important to keep [the Coonan Classic] going year in and year out.”
The Coonan Classic at Raritan High School will kick off with a game between Matawan Regional High School and Howell High School at 10 a.m. The final two games will start at 12:15 p.m. The Rockets will face Bloomfield High School, and Ewing High School will play West Milford High School.
A ceremony will start at 11:45 a.m. The day also includes concessions, face painting and other activities. The rain date is April 23.
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors. Proceeds support the Coonan Family Scholarship Fund, which is awarded each year to a Rockets softball player. Donations can also be mailed to Raritan Athletic Director John DeGenito at 419 Middle Road, Hazlet, N.J. 07730. Checks should be made to Don’t Stop Believing.
The Rockets are off to a strong start to the 2017 season. They own a 5-1 overall record, and with a 4-0 record in the Shore Conference A Central Division, they are tied with Matawan for first place in the division. Raritan’s only loss came against Washington Township High School.
Last week, the Rockets shut out Holmdel High School, 3-0, as Ashley Marino went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs. Lily Tomasiello added two hits and a run scored. Nicole Kirse held the Hornets to just four hits and struck out 13.
“Everyone’s contributing. What we’ve been looking for is improving week after week. We’ve been able to find success,” Rosner said. “We know we have some tough games ahead, including Saint John Vianney. We’re looking forward to all those games.”
Raritan was scheduled to play the division rival Lancers in a road game April 17, two days before playing Matawan. The Rockets will return home April 21 against Jackson Liberty High School. First pitch will be 4 p.m.