Westfield, seeking its first crown since 1998, is the top seed for the 38th annual softball UCT; 2-time defending champ GL is the 2nd seed

New Providence is the 3rd seed, Johnson the 4th and Rahway the 5th; After 5 prelim games are completed this week, the 8 first round games are Saturday, May 4

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI - New Providence pitcher Cassandra Squeri pitches to GL leadoff batter Paige Murphy in last year's UCT final at Kean's Cougar Field in Union.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – New Providence pitcher Cassandra Squeri pitches to GL leadoff batter Paige Murphy in last year’s UCT final at Kean’s Cougar Field in Union.

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.

21-Hillside.

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.

 

PRELIMINARY ROUND:

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

 

FIRST ROUND:

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

 

QUARTERFINALS:

Friday, May 10, 4 p.m.

At the higher seeds.

 

SEMIFINALS:

Saturday, May 11

At Kean University

Noon and 2 p.m.

 

FINAL:

Saturday, May 18

At Kean University

JV: Noon.

Varsity: 2 p.m.

 

UCT CHAMPIONS

2012: Governor Livingston

2011: Governor Livingston

2010: Cranford

2009: Union

2008: Cranford

2007: Cranford

2006: Cranford

2005: Brearley

2004: Roselle Park

2003: Roselle Park

2002: Cranford

2001: Governor Livingston

2000: Union

1999: Governor Livingston

1998: Westfield

1997: Governor Livingston

1996: Union

1995: Union

1994: Union

1993: Union

1992: Union

1991: Union

1990: Westfield

1989: Union Catholic

1988: Union

1987: Union

1986: Westfield

1985: Westfield

1984: Westfield

1983: Union

1982: Roselle Park

1981: Johnson Regional

1980: Linden

1979: Johnson Regional

1978: Westfield

1977: Scotch Plains

1976: Westfield

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).

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