Roselle Park softball advances to UCT semifinals for first time since 2009; Panthers will face Elizabeth May 5 at Kean

The other semifinal pits Westfield vs. Gov. Livingston; the final is May 6 at Kean

PHOTO COURTESY OF GENE NANN – Roselle Park junior Maddie Hummel is 11-1 with four shutouts, including one over Union Catholic 5-0 in the UCT quarterfinals.

Roselle Park and Elizabeth clashed back on April 13 with nothing on the line. It was a Union County Conference-crossover softball contest at Roselle Park, a good test for both.

Roselle Park, the Mountain Division leader, was 5-0 while Elizabeth, out of the Watchung Division, was 4-2.

Roselle Park managed to score a run in the bottom of the first for a good start. However, that was it for the Panther offense against sophomore Mayanah McIntosh.

Meanwhile, Roselle Park junior hurler Maddie Hummel was sharp as well, preventing the Minutemen from reaching the scoreboard.

Roselle Park held on for a 1-0 triumph, with Hummel and McIntosh both striking out 11.

“There were two good pitchers going at it,” Roselle Park head coach Fran Maggio said. “We had opportunities and left some runners in scoring position. Their kid pitched well.

“They had the bases loaded one inning and Maddie pitched herself out of a jam.”

Roselle Park and Elizabeth will meet again on Saturday, this time with a trip to the county championship game on the line.

Both won at home Wednesday in quarterfinal round play, with top-seeded Roselle Park blanking eighth-seeded Union Catholic 5-0 and fifth-seeded Elizabeth holding on for a 3-2 triumph over 13th-seeded Summit.

The 43rd annual softball Union County Tournament will continue Saturday at Kean University with semifinal games scheduled to be played at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

The other semifinal pits third-seeded Westfield vs. second-seeded and defending champion Governor Livingston. The Highlanders seek to reach the final for the ninth straight season.

Roselle Park, now 15-1, advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2009. The Panthers are seeking to reach the final for the first time since the last year they won the crown in 2004.

Roselle Park captured the North 2, Group 1 state championship the past two years. Last year the Panthers lost their only UCT game to Scotch Plains, who they swept in Mountain Division play.

“We made a conscious effort to make this something to strive for back when the season began,” Maggio said. “It’s been a while since we really went far in the county tournament. This is definitely something the girls really want.”

In Wednesday’s UCT quarterfinal win against Union Catholic, Hummel improved to 11-1 by tossing her fourth shutout, which was a two-hitter.

Hummel will also pitch at GL Thursday and then get a rest from taking the mound when Roselle Park hosts Linden Friday. Both of those games are UCC-crossover contest.

Roselle Park clinched the UCC’s Mountain Division championship with Tuesday’s 9-1 win at Union, improving to 8-0 in league play with two more division games to go. The Panthers have won the Mountain Division three years in a row now, including last year at 10-0 and in 2016 at 7-1.

If Roselle Park wins Saturday, the Panthers will play in Sunday’s UCT final, scheduled for 2 p.m. at Kean. That will mean Roselle Park will have played all seven days this week.

The week began with Monday’s 1-0 setback at 9-1 Watchung Hills, Roselle Park’s first loss of the season after a 13-0 start. The host Warriors improved to 10-1 with their 10th straight victory. Roselle Park was the last undefeated Union County team.

“We played a great game defensively,” Maggio said. “We played errorless ball and had more baserunners than they did.

“We had a couple of opportunities. I think we had runners in scoring position four of the seven innings.”

On an unusual 8-3-2-4-2 out-at-the-plate play to end the top of the fifth, Roselle Park had a runner thrown out at home after Hummel hit a bullet to center field for a hit. Maggio explained that the ball was hit too hard to initially send his baserunner home from second.

“They scored in the third inning on a bloop hit over our shortstop for the only run of the game,” Maggio said.

Elizabeth played Summit for the first time today and took a 3-0 lead. Summit scored its two runs in the top of the sixth.

GL and seventh-seeded Brearley also met for the first time, with the Highlanders bouncing back after Tuesday’s 9-5 Watchung Division home loss to Johnson. That was also the first time GL and Johnson faced each other this season.

GL had won eight straight before falling to the Crusaders.

Westfield and sixth-seeded Cranford split against each other in Watchung Division play – each winning at home – before Westfield beat Cranford at home again in Wednesday’s UCT quarterfinal at Westfield.

GL defeated Westfield 7-4 in Westfield back on April 12. The teams still have to play their Watchung Division game at GL.

 

43RD ANNUAL SOFTBALL

UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT

 

QUARTERFINALS:

Wednesday, May 2

Roselle Park 5, Union Catholic 0 – at Roselle Park

Elizabeth 3, Summit 2 – at Elizabeth

Gov. Livingston 5, Brearley 0 – at GL

Westfield 7, Cranford 3 – at Westfield

 

SEMIFINALS:

Saturday, May 5

At Kean University

3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

3-Westfield vs. 2-Gov. Livingston

5-Elizabeth vs. 1-Roselle Park

 

FINALS:

Sunday, May 6

At Kean University

JV semifinal winners, noon

Varsity semifinal winners, 2 p.m.

 

 

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