Bergen County Softball Tournament Quarterfinals Recap
IHA (1) vs. Mahwah (0) 9 innings – For nine innings Immaculate Heart Academy starting pitcher Katie Kudlacik and Mahwah starting pitcher Nicole Gurley were locked in a fierce pitcher’s duel but it took a one out single from Emile Cieslak to left field in the bottom of the 9th that scored Reese Guevarra from second base giving the Eagles a 1-0 win in the quarterfinals of the Bergen County Softball Tournament.
“It’s all about surviving and advancing in the county tournament and no style points,” said Immaculate Heart Academy Head Coach Anthony LaRezza. “You get no points for extra credit and every game is tough. Katie had her best location all year long and hit the spot today.”
From the onset Kudlacik was dominant striking out the side in the 2nd inning and not yielding a hit until the 5th inning. She tossed a complete game two hitter, striking out 18 and walking three. Gurley also went the distance giving up one run while scattering three hits and fanning four batters.
“I was nervous when Mahwah had runners on base but you have to find a pay to push aside those nerves,” said Kudlacik. “I focused on my mechanics and there was a good pitch call.”
In the top of the 7th inning, Mahwah had a scoring opportunity as pinch hitter Emily August singled and advanced to third base on back-to-back wild pitches. However, Kudlacik kept her cool striking out the last three batters to escape the jam.
“We played great defense but did not get the job done at the plate,” said Mahwah Head Coach Craig Nielsen. “Nicole threw a great game and deserved to win.”
Demarest (2) vs. Ridgewood (1) – Demarest Norsemen starting pitcher McKenzie McGrath produced both on the mound and plate leading the Norsemen to a 2-1 victory over the Ridgewood Maroons. McGrath single into the centerfield in the top of the 6th scored Victoria Corcoran tying up the game at 1-1. On the mound, McKenzie went the distance allowing one run on five hits while striking out five. She did not allow a hit until the 4th inning.
“I credit our kids for hanging in there for the whole time and never getting down,” said Demarest Head Coach Keith Johnson. “We took advantage of their mistakes and were opportunistic on the offensive advantage side of the ball. McKenzie has tremendous poise for a freshman and when faced with it doesn’t rattle her. It hasn’t been down since 1979 that Demarest has advanced to the semifinals. Proud of our kids because they earned it and means a lot to our program.”
In the top of the 7th Sam Maniscalco led off with a walk followed by a sac bunt pop by Haley Pontillo that was bobbled by Ridgewood third baseman Alexis Biagi. Demarest loaded up the bases on a Victoria Corcoran walk. A pick off attempt at third base ended up being costly with the ball being thrown away by Maroons catcher Rachel Pizzuti enabling Maniscalco to score giving the Norsemen a 2-1 lead.
Ridgewood had one last opportunity in the bottom half of the 7th inning. Pizzuti doubled into the right centerfield gap. Mia Kim came in as courtesy runner and ended up swiping third base. Julia Suh followed with a walk putting runners at first and third base. However, Emily Keeney grounded out to first base to end the ball game.
The Maroons jumped out ahead in the bottom of the 5th as Pizzuti reached on infield single. Kim replaced her as a courtesy runner and stole second. A sac bunt by Ridgewood starting pitcher Lisa Higgins down the first base line turned into an adventure as Demarest first baseman Jessica Muti threw the ball at first base allowing Kim to motor around all the way from second for the first run of the game.
Indian Hills (2) vs. Paramus (1) – Indian Hills shortstop Karley Jo-Greulich said after the game she didn’t finish her swing but the ball dropped in her favor as her check-swing single into shallow centerfield brought Angela Saric across home plate for the game winning run in the bottom of the 7th giving the Braves a 2-1 win.
“This team is resilient and always comes back,” said Indian Hills Head Coach Joseph Leicht. “Shelby Allen is our best player and unsung hero at the plate today. After giving up the first run, she shut Paramus out and able to get out of a tough spot late in the game.”
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the 3rd inning, Siena Mayer-Costa led off with a walk and advanced to second base on a wild pitcher. Indian Hills starting pitcher Shelby Allen ripped a line drive that skipped past Paramus left fielder Sally Li’s glove allowing Mayer-Costa to score tying the game up at 1-1. On the mound, Allen was impressive giving up only one run on two hits while striking out six.
“I said to myself this is my time and I need to stay back and drive the ball in,” said Allen. “ I know I had to throw strikes and the defense would be behind me.”
The Spartans struck first in the top of the 3rd inning. Shortstop Kelsey Settecasi led off with an infield bunt single in front of home plate and scored all the way from first base when Allen threw the ball away at 1st base after Jesscia Iacobazzo’s ground ball deflected off her. The play at home plate turned out to be very close as Leicht came out to argue the call vehemently with the home plate umpire.
In the 5th inning, Paramus had an opportunity to tack on another run as Antonia Vainieri ended up on 3rd base after leading off with the inning with a single, moving over to second on a passed ball and eventually 3rd on a ground out by Settecasi. Allen worked out of the jam by getting Iacobazzo to ground out to second to end the inning.
Northern Highlands (3) vs. Immaculate Conception (2) 8 innings – Northern Highlands Head Coach Chris Broking said the recipe for winning was outstanding defense and timely hitting which the Highlanders utilized in defeating the Immaculate Conception Blue Wolves 3-2 in 8 innings of the Bergen County Softball Tournament Quarterfinals.
“This was a total team effort and Katie was brilliant on the mound,” said Northern Highlands Head Coach Chris Broking. “They were focused, trusting themselves and keeping an eye on the ball.”
With the games nodded up at 2-2 in the top of the 8th inning and runners on 2nd and 3rd base, Madison Bialkowski hit a ground a ball to Blue Wolves third baseman Ashley Cantone who fired to home plate but catcher Lea Georgegatos was unable to hold on to the ball as Fiona Walley slid in safely for the go ahead run.
Faced with one last opportunity to tie the game up in the bottom half of the 8th, Immaculate Conception caught breaks on a check swing single into left field from Samantha Krakower and bloop single into right field off the bat of Georgegatos. Highlanders starting pitcher Katie Duncan remained calm by getting Andee Lupica to tap back to the mound and Ali Moran to ground out to 1st base ending the game.
“Top to bottom this is one of the strongest teams’ we have faced and there were no easy outs,” said Katie Duncan. “All I had left was to use my curve ball which is my best pitch.”
The Blue Wolves found themselves in a 2-0 entering the bottom half of the 6th when centerfielder Gabby Slade led off with into the left centerfield gap. Georgegatos followed with a single and on the ensuing throw to home plate advanced to second base. Andee Lupica stepped up next and singled through the hole into centerfield bringing Slade home making the score 2-1. Ali Moran’s grounder to second scored Georgegatos tying the game up at 2-2.
With two outs in the top of the 2nd inning, Northern Highlands had runners on 2nd and 3rd when Caitlin Long tapped a grounder back to Blue Wolves starting pitcher Sarah Piening who threw over to first but Ali Moran dropped the ball allowing courtesy runner Megan O”Donnell to race home for the first run of the game. In the top of the 3rd inning, Duncan contributed at the plate smacking a single to left field scoring Sarah Gunderson making it 2-0 Highlanders. On the mound, Duncan went the distance allowing two runs on six hits while striking out 8 and walking two.
Sunil Sunder Raj
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