By BRIAN CUNNIFF
The numbers almost look like they were generated through a video game.
But for Emily Cimino, the statistics she produced during a glorious, historic career for the Wildwood Catholic High School softball team are very real.
Cimino’s career – and that of the other seniors – came to an end last Thursday with a tough-luck 2-1 loss at Holy Cross in the second round of the South Jersey Non-Public B Tournament.
It was a trying season for Cimino and her teammates. Injuries, a transfer and decisions by other players from last year’s team not participate in 2019 left the program in a perilous state. Athletes from other sports were recruited to the team, just so it would have enough players. At various points of the season, Wildwood Catholic had no substitute players available on its bench. The team was forced to cancel a few non-league games and move conference games to different dates due to numbers issues.
Through it all, Cimino performed, just as she had in her previous three seasons when she helped the Crusaders to two South Jersey titles and an appearance in a third sectional title game.
“I’m super proud of the way Emily and the other seniors handled it,” Wildwood Catholic coach Matt Megines said. “Everything we built the last three years kind of came crashing down before the season started. But the whole senior class spent the last three years building something so they weren’t just going to fold it up. They were going to do the best they could to help the new girls out.”
Cimino will leave Wildwood Catholic as the program’s leader in close to every offensive category. In 266 at bats over four seasons, she posted 155 career hits, 23 home runs, 40 doubles, 11 triples, 137 runs scored and 122 RBI. She recorded a career batting average of an almost-hard-to-believe .581. Every one of those totals, except for at bats and runs scored, is a program record.
Then there are her pitching exploits. Cimino struck out 481 batters in 384 innings, going 40-20 with a 2.74 earned run average for her career. That’s despite missing about a month of pitching action last season as a junior with an injured hip.
“Obviously she’s the best softball player ever to come out of Wildwood Catholic,” Megines said. “We knew she was going to be a special player. Between hitting and pitching, she really put herself forward. But probably the biggest impact she made was that she made everybody else better. She dominated a lot pitching, and then it seemed like she was getting two, three hits in every game.”
Cimino was recently bestowed a major honor in recognition of her career exploits. She was named to the South team for the Super 36 state senior all-star game scheduled for June 10 at Seton Hall University.
“It’s a huge honor to be considered one of the top 36 players in the entire state,” Cimino said. “There are a lot of girls playing softball. It’s really cool to be considered for it, let alone making it.”
Cimino has bigger things ahead. She has already signed to play softball at Division I Lehigh University, where she plans to study biology. But that doesn’t mean she won’t miss playing at Wildwood Catholic.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” she said. “Obviously I’m excited to play college softball but it’s sad to know my four years for high school are over.
“I still have a lot of hard work before the spring season next year but I’m super excited to play at Lehigh. It’s something new for me so it’s exciting.”
Cimino, Mercedes Rivera, Bella Feraco, Noelle Probst and Anna Mae Peterson made up the best senior class in program history. But Peterson’s injury, a transfer and other injuries stripped away the chance to win a third South Jersey title.
“I just tried to help all the new girls that came out and make it the best season possible,” Cimino said. “Each day we got better. There were a lot of new girls that didn’t have the experience to play in the playoffs. It stunk a little bit not to make it as far as we had the last two years, but those were the cards we were handed this year. We did a good job to have a season and we still had some success along the way.
“I definitely learned that nothing is guaranteed,” Cimino added. “You might not have a lot of seniors one year but you can’t guarantee that the same people are all going to be there the following year. Clearly that happened to us.
“You have to take the moment for what it is and play every game like it’s your last because you never know when it is. You always like to leave the field not wishing you could have done this or that or have that one play back. You have to play every game to your full abilities.”
Emily Cimino did just that for the past four years. And now that it’s over, she leaves as the best softball player to ever play for a Cape May County high school.