Fontana of Northern Burlington continues to launch a family business
EASTAMPTON — Pitching has come full circle for the Fontana family.
And for Mikayla Fontana, a freshman on the Northern Burlington High School softball team, and her mother, Olivia, the task of throwing a softball only made the bond between them stronger.
Tuesday was a special day for both of them as Mikayla Fontana picked up her first college win in her second career start, shutting out rival Rancocas Valley on three hits with 10 strikeouts in a 2-0 win on Tuesday. . Olivia proudly watched the moment at the Rancocas Valley Sports Complex.
The two work on the contraption nearly every day, year-round, with Mikayla pitching to her mother.
“Everything I learned came from her,” Mikayla said. “Every day we are there and she is always there to catch me. I wouldn’t be anywhere without her.
It’s a new position for Olivia (Faulkes) Fontana, who was a star pitcher during her school days and led Burlington City to a state title in 1998.
“I’m the pitcher who became a catcher,” Olivia said. “I really appreciate my time on the bucket (catching Mikayla). We have our moments, like any other mother and daughter, but I know in her heart that she appreciates this time we spend together working on the pitch.
“The circle is complete for me. It’s great to be the watching parent. I’m definitely more nervous than her. She’s just a player at heart, she thrives on competition.
While the throwing gene is definitely in his DNA, the right displays many more traits of what it takes to succeed in the circle, including veteran demeanor.
“She’s got a lot of experience for a rookie,” Northern Burlington head coach Brian Wolverton said. “She is a competitor who has a very good sense of the game. You can see it every day in training. She listens, makes eye contact with you, and picks up on every little thing we say.
After striking out 13 over eight innings in her debut against Burlington Township, Fontana proved to be even sharper against Rancocas Valley. Although she gave up extra hits in the fourth and seventh frames, she calmed down and kept the shutout intact.
Fontana hammered the takedown with his favorite screwball, setting up hitters to use his curveball for the range pitch.
“I’m definitely a spinning pitcher, so for me coming inside and then working outside is a big part of executing what I do,” she said.
Fontana knows what she wants to accomplish in the next four years at Northern. Going to university in the first year was the first mark. Now, with the softball in her hand, she would like to raise the bar even more.
“I’d like to throw a few hits and a few perfect plays,” she said.
A three-sport athlete at Northern, Fontana plays volleyball in the fall and basketball in the winter. She doubles as a first baseman when not pitching.
Fontana had two hits in his first two games with the Greyhounds, a triple in Game 1 and a single against RV.
So who would win the battle now between mother and daughter?
“In my prime, I think I could hit her, but not now at 42,” Olivia said with a laugh.
The key games
Northern Burlington, which had just one hit through the first six innings, went on three straight hits to start the seventh. Abigail Valente led the frame with a single, Abigail Todd followed with a double before Fontana roped in an RBI single. A batter later, Ava Connor added some insurance with an RBI single.
Rancocas Valley has blocked a runner on third base in three different innings.
Rancocas Valley starter Olivia Doppler put in a masterful performance, taking a no-hitter in the sixth. She finished with 10 strikeouts.
Rancocas Valley (0-2) will host its RV Elite tournament on Friday and Saturday. A new format highlights this year’s tournament, which features an eight-team field and is double-elimination.
On Friday, Rancocas Valley takes on Vineland and Hammonton takes on Washington Township, both games at 2 p.m. After those games, Kingsway will meet South Brunswick and Cherokee will face Buena.
Saturday’s schedule begins at 9 a.m. with the semi-finals scheduled for 11 a.m. The championship and consolation for third place are scheduled for 3 p.m.
Northern Burlington (1-1) will play in the Overbrook Tournament with a Saturday showdown against Haddon Heights in the first round.
Tom McGurk is a regional sports reporter for the Courier-Post, the Daily Journal and the Burlington County Times, covering South Jersey sports for over 30 years. If you have a sports story to tell, contact him at (856) 486-2420 or email [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @McGurkSports. Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.