UNION – Maddie Hummel has been through it all before.
Her experience of pitching in big games couldn’t have served her better than it did on Sunday.
Hummel pitched nine innings and had to sweat through baserunners in every single one of them.
While her mound performance – although solid – was not near perfection in any way, she sure made up for it with her bat.
Hummel produced the first and last of Roselle Park’s 15 hits – her final and the game’s last coming in the bottom of the ninth and going through to center field to drive in Alexis Cieslinski with the game-winning run.
Hummel, with Roselle Park down a run and two outs away from losing, drove in Hailey Ortega in the bottom of the seventh to even the game once again.
On the biggest stage of her high school career so far, Hummel came through like a champion to help lift Roselle Park to its second state championship in program history and first in 15 years.
Roselle Park, the North 2, Group 1 champion for the third consecutive season, came back from one-run deficits twice to defeat South Jersey champion Gloucester City 4-3 in nine innings in Sunday morning’s softball Group 1 state championship game at Kean University’s Cougar Field.
Roselle Park won its sixth straight to improve to 27-2. The Panthers have won 27 games for the first time.
Gloucester City had a 15-game winning streak snapped and concluded its 2018 season at 23-4.
Hummel threw 160 pitches and had a rare game in which she walked more batters – eight (one intentional) – than struck out – seven. Earlier in the week she passed 500 career strikeouts in Roselle Park’s sectional final win at home over Belvidere. She has plenty more left in her right arm – beginning with the Tournament of Champions on Tuesday – for sure.
“This is the most amazing feeling,” Hummel said. “This beats winning the county and the conference. This was a great team effort.”
There are roughly 10-15 plays in this game that you could dissect using the Leo Tolstoy method of explanation.
However, I will go here with what I felt were among the top 3 and I put them in order here of when they took place:
HUGE IMPACTFUL PLAY No. 1: Down 1-0 in the top of the third, Roselle Park almost fell behind by two runs before the Panthers executed a rare 5-3-2 inning-ending double play. First baseman Emma Cielinski not only gloved a low throw for a putout on the play, but also threw a perfect strike home to also gain an assist and – more importantly – keep Roselle Park behind by just 1-0.
HUGE IMPACTFUL PLAY NO. 2: Had Roselle Park lost, Panthers head coach Fran Maggio would be tossing and turning for many nights to come.
After tying the game in the bottom of the third at 1-1 and then taking the lead for the first time at 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Roselle Park was set up to – perhaps – break the game open in the bottom of the fifth – and that was after Gloucester City for the second straight inning left the bases loaded and did not score.
Alexis Cieslinski led off the fifth with an infield single on the first pitch she saw. Cieslinski moved to third and Hailey Ortega was safe at first following an infield throwing error.
With runners on first and third now and nobody out, Roselle Park had batters No. 3, 4 and 5 up next. Sarah Lippin followed by hitting a fly ball to right field. Cieslinski scored, but moments later she was ruled out when Gloucester City appealed the tag-up play at third base. The home plate umpire immediately raised his fist in the air to call Cieslinski out. Roselle Park remained ahead only 2-1 and now there were two outs and Ortega on second. Gloucester City sophomore right hander Vanessa Pino retired Maddie Hummel on a ground ball to third to end the inning.
In an inning where it appeared Roselle Park might score multiple runs, the Panthers were denied any.
“I’ll take the blame,” Maggio said. “I should have made sure that she didn’t go until it was time.”
As it turned out, Cieslinski was one of only three players – teammate Sarah Lippin and Gloucester City’s Jordan Howey the others – to produce three hits. She, ironically, also came home to score the winning run.
“Alexis came right back and did something positive and played a great game,” Maggio said. “She is the mentally toughest player on our team.”
HUGE IMPACTFUL PLAY NO. 3: With the season on the line in the bottom of the seventh Roselle Park received a bit of good fortune. Hailey Ortega walked on four pitches with one out and nobody on. As it turned out it was the only base on balls issued by GC hurler Vanessa Pino. Sarah Lippin followed with an opposite field single to right. On the hit Ortega rounded second and headed to third. It appeared that the throw from right fielder Ashlee Fleckenstein was going to nab Ortega at third. However, third baseman Myranda McCabe could not hold on to the ball when applying the tag. Ortega was safe. On the very next pitch Maddie Hummel saved Roselle Park’s season by driving in Ortega with a sacrifice fly to center.
Hummel was confident Roselle Park would find a way.
“Down 3-2 I still had no doubt,” Hummel said. “In the seventh inning I was pretty calm. I knew that I could hit a fly ball somewhere.
“In the ninth I was ready to hit the ball hard again.”
Roselle Park’s 27-2 season – still with TOC competition to go – now consists of winning the Union County Conference’s Mountain Division crown outright for the third straight year, the Union County Tournament for the first time since 2004 and Group 1 semifinal and Group 1 state championship games both for the first time since 2003.
Roselle Park’s first state championship came in 2003 when the Panthers defeated Gloucester City 2-0 in the Group 1 final played that year at Toms River East.
“We were excited today and not nervous at all,” Hummel continued. “Everyone was so motivated. We had some really good comeback games before against Bridgewater-Raritan and Metuchen. Getting behind motivates us.
“We’re 27-2, but I think we could have done even better.”
Roselle Park head coach Fran Maggio gets to coach Hummel – and many of his other state championship players – another year. Six of his nine starting players from Sunday return.
“As good as Maddie is – and I think now you can say she’s one of the best in the state – she struggles when she is not ahead of batters,” Maggio said.
Not counting the one intentional walk, seven other walks issued by Hummel is a lot.
“We didn’t want a lot of baserunners because we knew that Gloucester was aggressive on the basepaths,” Maggio said. “I just can’t say enough about Maddie and her ability – going back to her freshman year – of getting out of situations. It’s really amazing.”
Roselle Park had comeback DNA from earlier this year, which Hummel previously touched upon.
“We came back from down 4-1 against Bridgewater-Raritan (a 5-4 road victory on April 11) and that sort of set the tone for this team,” Maggio said. “The kids believe that no deficit is insurmountable.”
When Maggio led Roselle Park to its first state title in 2003 during his seventh season at the helm – his first was in 1997 – the winningest (361 wins) softball coach in Roselle Park history had a team finish 24-1-1, produce 22 shutouts and conclude with a 16-game winning streak.
“This one is more satisfying only because I’m older,” said Maggio, who will turn 52 later this month. “I was only in my seventh season for the first one. This one has been a long time coming.”
Also . . .
Gloucester City scored all three of its runs with two strikes – the first two with two outs and the third with one out.
The only perfect 1-2-3 innings were thrown by Gloucester City sophomore right hander Vanessa Pino in the bottom of the second and eighth innings.
Roselle Park executed a sensational, inning-ending 5-3-2 double play in the third inning where sophomore first baseman Emma Cieslinski did quite well to catch a low throw and then threw a strike to catcher Hailey Ortega, who applied the tag to keep Roselle Park behind by just a 1-0 count.
Three baserunners were thrown out at home plate – one from Gloucester City in the third and two from Roselle Park in the third and fourth.
Gloucester City left the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth innings and did not score in either frame.
The first runs of the game – Gloucester City’s first and Roselle Park’s first – were produced on at-bats that lasted eight pitches (GC junior designated player Tiara Veney) and nine (RP junior catcher Hailey Ortega), respectively.
Gloucester City sophomore right hander Vanessa Pino’s only walk was to Roselle Park senior catcher Hailey Ortega with one out and nobody on in the bottom of the seventh. The Lions were two outs away from winning the championship. Ortega came around to score the tying run, with the game going to extra innings.
DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME: Although it was only the top of the third, you could have said that Roselle Park might have been playing back on its heels a bit. Already down 1-0, the Panthers did not want to fall further behind. Gloucester City had a runner on second with one out and was seeking to extend its lead. Cleanup batter Kylar Coughlin hit a ground ball to Roselle Park third baseman Alexis Cieslinski, who then delivered a low throw to sister and first baseman Emma Cieslinski. Emma did quite well to cleanly field the low throw and then had the presence of mind – the moment was not too big for her – to throw a strike home to catcher Hailey Ortega – who put the bang-bang tag on Gloucester City baserunner Meghan Ferry, who attempted to score on the ground ball. Roselle Park remained behind 1-0 and then the Panthers tied the game in the third and took their first lead in the fourth.
AT-BAT OF THE GAME: Nothing is guaranteed. Gloucester City sophomore right hander Vanessa Pino previously retired Roselle Park junior slugger Maddie Hummel on a ground ball to third base her second time up to end the third. With the season on the line and the Panthers two outs away from packing their equipment without any smiles on their faces, Hummel extended the game in the bottom of the seventh by coming through big-time with a sacrifice fly to center to plate Hailey Ortega and tie the game at 3-3.
2018 GROUP 1 SOFTBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
AT KEAN UNIVERSITY’S COUGAR FIELD
SJ-Gloucester City (23-4)0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 – 3 9 1
N2-Roselle Park (27-2) 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 – 4 15 2
Roselle Park junior RH Maddie Hummel (23-2)
9 innings complete, 160 pitches
3 runs (all earned) on nine hits
7 strikeouts (six swinging and one looking) and 8 walks (one intentional)
Hummel had to deal with baserunners in all nine innings, but did
not allow a hit in the first and third.
Gloucester City sophomore RH Vanessa Pino (23-4)
8 and 1/3 innings complete, 94 pitches
4 runs (all earned) on 15 hits
3 strikeouts (all swinging) and 1 walk (3-0 count)
Pino retired the side in order in the second and eighth,
which were the only two innings Roselle Park did not get a hit.
GLOUCESTER CITY HITS (9):
2nd-Samantha Palese – single to CF
2nd-Tiara Veney – opposite field RBI-single to RF
4th-Ashlee Fleckenstein – bunt single
5th-Jordan Howey – leadoff single to CF
6th-Myranda McCabe – single to LF
6th-Jordan Howey – opposite field RBI-double to LF
7th-Ashlee Fleckenstein – bloop single to L-C
8th-Jordan Howey – leadoff opposite field double to L-C
9th-Mariah Dietrich – bloop single to CF
Runs scored: Samantha Palese in 2nd, Myranda McCabe in 6th,
Emilee Hillman in 7th (who led off with a walk).
ROSELLE PARK HITS (15):
1st-Maddie Hummel – single to CF
3rd-Alexis Cieslinski – sliding double over LF head
3rd-Hailey Ortega – single to LF past SS
3rd-Sarah Lippin – RBI-single to CF and Ortega out 9-2
4th-Merissa Gilic – leadoff infield single, beats 6-3 throw
4th-Angelina Chacon – opposite field single to RF and Gilic out 9-2
4th-Emma Cieslinski – RBI-single to CF
5th-Alexis Cieslinski – leadoff infield single
6th-Madison Ceislinski – opposite field single to RF
6th-Angelina Chacon – single to CF
7th-Sarah Lippin – opposite field single to RF
9th-Alexis Cieslinski – single to CF
9th-Hailey Ortega – single to LF
9th-Sarah Lippin – opposite field single to RF
9th-Maddie Hummel – RBI-single to CF – RP wins 4-3
Runs scored: Alexis Cieslinski in 3rd, Angelina Chacon in 4th,
Hailey Ortega in 7th, Alexis Cieslinski in 9th.
SJ-GLOUCESTER CITY LIONS (23-4):
1-Myranda McCabe, senior third baseman
12-Jordan Howey, senior second baseman
2-Meghan Ferry, sophomore shortstop
13-Kylar Coughlin, senior center fielder
4-Emilee Hillman, sophomore left fielder
34-Samantha Palese, senior first baseman
5-Ashlee Fleckenstein, junior right fielder
14-Mariah Dietrich, senior catcher
3-Tiara Veney, junior designated player
18-Vanessa Pino, sophomore RH pitcher (did not bat)
7-Lauren Pierman, courtesy pinch runner
Head coach: Megan Mason-Light
N2-ROSELLE PARK PANTHERS (27-2):
8-Hailey Ortega, junior catcher
2-Sarah Lippin, sophomore center fielder
3-Maddie Hummel, junior RH pitcher
4-Merissa Gilic, senior right fielder
17-Madison Cieslinski, sophomore second baseman
24-Angelina Chacon, senior shortstop
29-Emma Cieslinski, sophomore first baseman
19-Paige Junior, senior left fielder
6-Alexis Cieslinski, sophomore third baseman
13-Meaghan Mooney, junior
23-Danielle Crown, freshman
Head coach: Fran Maggio
Assistant: Jill Bury
ROSELLE PARK STATE TOURNAMENT
SUCCESS – 2018 GROUP 1 STATE CHAMPS
NORTH 2, GROUP 1 – TOP SEED:
May 17: Roselle Park 14, University 0 – at Roselle Park
May 21: Roselle Park 1, Secaucus 0 – at Roselle Park
May 24: Roselle Park 6, Brearley 0 – at Roselle Park
May 29: Roselle Park 7, Belvidere 2 – at Roselle Park
GROUP 1 SEMIFINAL:
May 31: Roselle Park 2, Cedar Grove 1 (8 inn.) – at Caldwell University
GROUP 1 FINAL:
June 3: Roselle Park 4, Gloucester City 3 (9 inn.) – at Kean University