ROSELLE PARK – Beating a team – let alone a quality one – three times in three tries in one season is a challenge many squads might find too daunting.
If the Roselle Park softball team was to reach its third consecutive sectional state championship game that’s what the Panthers had to do. They had to find a way to beat neighborhood rival Brearley a third time.
More than up for the task, Roselle Park scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first to take the lead for good and then added a single insurance run in the third and four more in the sixth to prevail over Brearley once again.
For the second straight season Roselle Park went 3-0 against Brearley after the Panthers topped the Bears 6-0 in Thursday afternoon’s North 2, Group 1 semifinal at Roselle Park High School.
Roselle Park won for the third straight time to improve to 24-2 and advanced to the North 2, Group 1 final for the third straight year. The Panthers will host either sixth-seeded Belvidere or second-seeded Ridgefield in Tuesday’s sectional state championship game. Belvidere will play at Ridgefield in the section’s other semifinal on Friday.
The Panthers have now won 11 consecutive North 2, Group 1 state tournament games. Last year after sweeping Brearley in Union County Conference-Mountain Division play, Roselle Park defeated Brearley 4-3 at home in the sectional final.
Roselle Park previously swept Brearley this year in Mountain Division play by scores of 1-0 in Kenilworth and 2-1 in Roselle Park. The Panthers won the Mountain Division title outright for the third straight year this season.
Brearley finished another solid season at 14-6 and in the Mountain Division placed second.
Brearley senior right hander Michelle Capizzano finished 13-6 this year. She concluded her varsity career with more than 50 wins and 500 strikeouts.
Capizzano, who will continue playing in college at Rutgers-Newark, retired the side in order in the fourth and fifth and at one point retired seven in a row.
Roselle Park junior right hander Maddie Hummel tossed a one-hitter to improve to 20-2. The only hit she allowed came on a bunt with one out in the third.
“I was trying to throw mostly screwballs inside,” Hummel said. “If they caught up to them then I tried to throw my fastball inside.”
With a runner on third and two outs in the second Hummel ended the threat with a strikeout swinging of a batter who just kept on fouling pitches off before Hummel got her.
“It was tiring and motivating at the same time to try to get her out,” Hummel said.
When Brearley had a runner on third again and two outs in the fifth Hummel fanned the batter at the plate looking.
Hummel pitched perfect fourth, sixth and seventh innings, while Brearley managed only one baserunner from the fourth inning on, that batter getting hit by a pitch with one out in the fifth. Hummel retired the last eight batters she faced.
“We really had them down after all the times we played them,” Hummel said. “I pretty much knew what to throw to (each batter).”
Driving in the runs were Merissa Gilic with an opposite field single to right in the first, Angelina Chacon with a single to center in the third and in the sixth Lexi Cieslinski with an opposite field two-run single to right and Sarah Lippin with an opposite field single to right. Roselle Park’s fifth run scored as the result of a throwing error.
All six Roselle Park runs were scored with two outs.
Hummel produced two of Roselle Park’s eight hits, going two-for-four with two singles.
“It was good to see us score a lot of insurance runs,” Hummel said.
Roselle Park increased its winning streak against Brearley to seven. Brearley’s last win against Roselle Park was an 11-0 triumph at Roselle Park on April 9, 2016. The seven-game winning streak began with a 4-1 win at Brearley on April 25, 2016.
For the second straight season Roselle Park will be hosting the North 2, Group 1 final. Roselle Park won the 2016 N2, G1 championship game at Dayton by the score of 4-3.
“We want to continue working hard as a team,” Hummel said. “Our last few games we’ve been a little flat.”
Emma Cieslinski and Madison Cieslinski also hit safely for the Panthers.
Roselle Park head coach Fran Maggio really didn’t need to say much since his squad had already faced Capizzano many times in the past.
“When you get to this point in the year, when you have played 26 games, you just go out and do your thing,” Maggio said. “There was no special preparation or anything to go over.
“The first time we faced Capizzano she was throwing inside and the second time she was throwing the ball outside. Today we were ready for both.”
NORTH 2, GROUP 1 SEMIFINAL SOFTBALL AT ROSELLE PARK
4-Brearley (14-6) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 1 3
1-Roselle Park (24-2) 1 0 1 0 0 4 x – 6 8 2
Roselle Park junior RH Maddie Hummel (20-2)
Brearley senior RH Michelle Capizzano (13-6)
RBI-HITS FOR ROSELLE PARK:
Merissa Gilic, Angelina Chacon, Lexi Cieslinski, Sarah Lippin.
2018 NORTH 2, GROUP 1 SOFTBALL
SEEDS: 1-Roselle Park. 2-Ridgefield. 3-Hoboken. 4-Brearley.
5-Bloomfield Tech. 6-Belvidere. 7-Becton. 8-Secaucus.
9-Dayton. 10-Arts. 11-Glen Ridge. 12-New Providence.
13-Weehawken. 14-Technology. 15-Warren Tech. 16-University.
Roselle Park 14, University 0 – at Roselle Park
Secaucus 6, Dayton 4 – at Dayton
New Providence 12, Bloomfield Tech 9 – at BT
Brearley 11, Weehawken 1 – at Brearley
Hoboken 19, Technology 1 – at Hoboken
Belvidere 10, Glen Ridge 0 – at Belvidere
Becton 17, Arts 10 – at Becton
Ridgefield 17, Warren Tech 1 – at Ridgefield
Roselle Park 1, Secaucus 0 – at Roselle Park
Brearley 12, New Providence 0 – at Brearley
Belvidere 13, Hoboken 0 – at Hoboken
Ridgefield 4, Becton 3 – at Ridgefield
Thursday, May 24
Roselle Park 6, Brearley 0 – at Roselle Park
Friday, May 25
6-Belvidere at 2-Ridgefield
Tuesday, May 29
6-Belvidere/2-Ridgefield at 1-Roselle Park
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Roselle Park