Westfield, seeking its first county championship in 15 years, is the top seed for the 38th annual softball Union County Tournament.
The last time the Blue Devils won the title was in 1998 when they were led by senior pitcher Shannon Wagner. Eight years later in 2006 Wagner, as Shannon Norton, guided Cranford to its second of five championships.
Westfield, led by head coach Caitlin MacDonald – who was an all-county player herself for the Blue Devils before graduating in 2002 – begins the week at 10-2 and on a nine-game winning streak. The Blue Devils opened with a 4-3, nine-inning Union County Conference-Watchung Division home win over arch rival Cranford April 2, scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Westfield’s only county loss was at Watchung Division foe Johnson 5-4 April 4 in Clark, with the home team Crusaders scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Westfield, which leads the Watchung Division with a 6-1 record, has won five games in its last at-bat, including four at home and one on the road.
The Blue Devils are scheduled to host Hunterdon Central Monday, Johnson Tuesday, Watchung Hills Wednesday and Mahwah Friday.
Westfield’s last loss was an 11-1 defeat at home to Somerset County opponent Hillsborough back on April 5.
The Blue Devils, as the seventh seed and with a record under .500, reached the final in 2011 for the first time since 1998, falling to top-seeded Gov. Livingston after downing second-seeded Johnson in the quarterfinals and third-seeded Cranford in the semifinals.
Also with five crowns is second-seeded GL, which in 2011 and 2012 captured back-to-back titles for the first time in program history. Winning those championship games on the mound at Kean University’s Cougar Field in Union – 8-1 vs. Westfield in 2011 and 9-2 vs. New Providence in 2012 – was GL senior right hander Jordan Robbins.
New Providence, which reached the final last year for the first time, is the third seed. The Pioneers are led by senior righty Cassandra Squeri, who has also guided New Providence to the North 2, Group 1 finals in 2011 and 2012.
Here’s a look at how Saturday night’s seeding went:
SEEDS: 1-Westfield. 2-Gov. Livingston. 3-New Providence. 4-Johnson.
5-Rahway. 6-Elizabeth. 7-Roselle Park. 8-Dayton.
9-Cranford. 10-Linden. 11-Union Catholic. 12-Brearley.
13-Summit. 14-Scotch Plains. 15-Roselle Catholic. 16-Oak Knoll.
17-Kent Place. 18-Union. 19-Benedictine. 20-Plainfield.
Five preliminary round games – at the higher seeds – must be played by Thursday, May 2.
The eight first round games – all at the higher seeds – are scheduled for Saturday, May 4 at 4 p.m. because that day is an SAT day.
The four quarterfinal games are scheduled to be played at the higher seeds at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 10.
The two semifinals are set to be played at Kean University on Saturday, May 11 at noon and 2 p.m.
The final – for the fourth straight season – will be played at Kean University on Saturday, May 18 at 2 p.m., with the junior varsity championship game to be played at Cougar Field first that day at noon.
Rain dates for these games will be the following day.
To be played by Thursday, May 2
21-Hillside at 12-Brearley
20-Plainfield at 13-Summit
19-Benedictine at 14-Scotch Plains
18-Union at 15-Roselle Catholic
17-Kent Place at 16-Oak Knoll
Saturday, May 4, 4 p.m.
TOP SIDE OF THE BRACKET:
9-Cranford at 8-Dayton
17-Kent Place/16-Oak Knoll at 1-Westfield
21-Hillside/12-Brearley at 5-Rahway
20-Plainfield/13-Summit at 4-Johnson
BOTTOM SIDE OF THE BRACKET:
10-Linden at 7-Roselle Park
18-Union/15-Roselle Catholic at 2-Gov. Livingston
11-Union Catholic at 6-Elizabeth
19-Benedictine/14-Scotch Plains at 3-New Providence
Friday, May 10, 4 p.m.
At the higher seeds.
Saturday, May 11
At Kean University
Noon and 2 p.m.
Saturday, May 18
At Kean University
Varsity: 2 p.m.
2012: Governor Livingston
2011: Governor Livingston
2004: Roselle Park
2003: Roselle Park
2001: Governor Livingston
1999: Governor Livingston
1997: Governor Livingston
1989: Union Catholic
1982: Roselle Park
1981: Johnson Regional
1979: Johnson Regional
1977: Scotch Plains
Championships: Union (11), Westfield (7),
Cranford (5), Gov. Livingston (5),
Roselle Park (3), Johnson Regional (2),
Scotch Plains (1), Linden (1), Union Catholic (1), Brearley (1).