Debbie Schwartz became the fifth softball coach and the first woman to win 700 games in New Jersey when Donovan’s Catholic softball team beat Lakewood, 15-0, in the first game of a doubleheader on Monday.
The Griffins’ previous two scheduled games – Friday against Barnegat and Saturday against Jackson – were scrapped, pushing the decisive win to Monday.
Rookie Christina Grinex homered in the first and second innings, hitting five runs. Julia Apostolakos added a two-run homer and a two-run single, while Annabelle Graf and Gia Gordon combined on the hit.
Donovan Catholic won the second game of the doubleheader, 16-0.
Schwartz is in her 33rd season overall – 25 at Toms River East and the last eight at Donovan Catholic, where she built a dynasty that included the last two Tournament of Champions winners.
His teams have won 27 division titles, 10 Ocean County crowns, six sectional championships, five Shore titles, and a pair of state and Tournament of Champions honors. She is 701-89 overall and the Griffins have won 38 straight games.
“The championships are great, but we don’t talk about them during the season.” Schwartz said last week as she was about to take the leap. “It’s game by game, keeping it simple, making sure these kids are the best they can be. It can be a bumpy ride. But we’re honest with the kids, honest when they’re awesome and honest when they’re great. aren’t great. We give them constructive feedback and they live with it.
A policy change in Toms River left her unable to coach at East and fulfill her supervisory role, so she crossed town for Donovan Catholic in 2014. The rest is history – or more accurately, even more. to the story.
“I’m really, really honored to be in the coaching profession for so many years and grateful for all the great athletes I’ve coached in my career,” Schwartz said last week. “I would be remiss if I did not mention my longtime assistant, Dawn Dziedzic. We’ve been on the sidelines together for many years, and I share that with her.
“Dawn and I had no desire to stop coaching, but the school decided I wasn’t coaching anymore. I never looked to go somewhere different. God closed a door, and I was truly blessed. Donovan Catholic has opened another door, and a big door has opened.
Schwartz players – current and former – are thrilled with the culture created by Schwartz.
“Donovan Catholic is going to be a very special program from now on,” said two-time State Player of the Year Karina Gaskins, a 2020 Donovan Catholic who now plays at Notre Dame. “She’s an amazing coach and whatever you give her, she’ll do great things.
“During my four years playing with her, she was one of my biggest supporters. I was injured in my first year and she made sure I took my time to come back. My former teammates and I had an amazing experience and a big part of it was her and the culture she created, playing for each other, not yourselves It was a team atmosphere, it was all about the other, never focused on one person. It was all about us and that made it easier because it was so much about each other. She coached the players, it is really something important.
Don Panzarella of South Plainfield, Mike Teshkoyan of Caldwell, former Middletown South coach Tom Erbig and Hunterdon Central coach Pete Fick are the only other coaches to have made the leap.
Donovan Catholic is currently No. 1 in the state and 20-0 this season.
The NJ High School Sports newsletter now appears in mailboxes 5 days a week. Sign up now and be among the first to get all the sports for boys and girls you care about, delivered straight to your inbox every weekday. To add your name, Click here.