GL softball team going for 3rd straight UCT championship; will face Westfield in Sunday’s noon final at Kean

Highlanders and Blue Devils captured one-run semifinal victories Satrurday

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI: -  A bunt by a Westfield batter vs. Johnson in Saturday's second UCT semifinal at Kean.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI:  A bunt by a Westfield batter vs. Johnson in Saturday’s second UCT semifinal at Kean.

38th ANNUAL SOFTBALL UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT

FINAL AT KEAN UNIVERSITY’S COUGAR FIELD

SUNDAY, MAY 19, NOON

2-Gov. Livingston (14-7) vs. 1-Westfield (17-5)

GL pitcher: Senior RH Jordan Robbins (11-5)

Westfield pitcher: Junior RH Elena Scarano (12-2)

 

Saturday’s Semifinal Scores at Kean

Governor Livingston 4, New Providence 3

Westfield 5, Johnson 4

UNION – Governor Livingston has been there and done that.

So has Westfield.

The difference is that GL has been there and done that much more recently.

Both want to do it again.

The Highlanders won back-to-back county championships for the first time the past two seasons.

The Blue Devils are seeking their first crown in 15 years.

For the second time in three years at Kean University’s Cougar Field it will be GL vs. Westfield in the championship game.

“Our players are well-aware of the history and what’s at stake,” fifth-year Westfield head coach Caitlin MacDonald said.

The 38th annual softball Union County Tournament championship game is set to take place at Cougar Field Sunday at noon. The game was moved up two hours because of possible rain.

The junior varsity championship game was also moved up to a 10 a.m. start. The semifinals included fifth-seeded Summit at top-seeded Johnson and seventh-seeded Cranford at third-seeded Roselle Park.

Second-seeded GL, which has won the third-most county titles with five, came back to oust third-seeded New Providence 4-3 in Saturday’s first varsity semifinal at Cougar Field. GL and New Providence previously split Union County Conference-Watchung Division games, with GL winning 3-1 at home on April 4 and New Providence 4-0 at home on April 30.

GL won its fourth straight since losing at Westfield, while New Providence had a 10-game winning streak snapped since its last loss, which was also at Westfield.

New Providence, still seeking its first county crown, reached the final for the first time last year, falling to GL 9-2 at Cougar Field.

Top-seeded Westfield, which has won the second-most county crowns with seven including its last in 1998, held on to eliminate fourth-seeded Johnson 5-4 in the second semifinal. Westfield and Johnson also previously split UCC-Watchung Division games, with Johnson winning 5-4 at home on April 4 and Westfield 10-2 at home on April 30.

Westfield won its second straight, while Johnson lost for the second time in a row.

Westfield reached the final two years ago for the first time since last winning the title in 1998. The Blue Devils fell to the Highlanders 8-1 at Cougar Field. That was GL’s first championship since 2001 and its first under present head coach Rick Iacono, who took over the reigns from Jerry Britt in 2002.

GL won its championships in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2011 and 2012.

Westfield, which captured the first UCT title in 1976, also won in 1978, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1990 and 1998. Westfield was the first team to win three championships in a row.

GL, which is in the final for the fourth straight season, will attempt to become the fourth team to win three titles in a row.

Union, which has won the most crowns with 11, won a record six straight from 1991-1996.

Cranford, which is tied with GL for the most county crowns with five, captured three in a row from 2006-2008.

Westfield swept GL in UCC-Watchung Division play, winning 7-2 at GL on April 9 and 3-2 at home on May 7.

“It’s always tough to beat a good team three times, but we’ll be ready,” MacDonald said.

 

GL SAVES ITS BEST FOR LAST

Down to its final five outs, without a run and trailing by three, two-time defending champion GL saved its best for last.

The Highlanders scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to tie New Providence and then scored the game’s final run in the seventh when leadoff batter Taylor Hendrzak walked with the bases loaded.

Third-seeded New Providence was in control until the bottom of the sixth before second-seeded GL came back to top the Pioneers 4-3 in Saturday’s first semifinal at Cougar Field.

On a 3-1 count with two outs, GL junior catcher Kacie Worswick delivered a two-run single to center field to tie the game at 3-3. GL’s first run was produced as the result of a throwing error after a sacrifice bunt attempt by Missy Quinn.

GL No. 9 batter and lefty-swinging Colleen Frank – who led off the inning with an infield hit to third – came around to score on the play, which finally got the Highlanders on the scoreboard and started to give them momentum.

After winning pitcher, senior right hander Jordan Robbins, retired New Providence on just hit in the top of the seventh, GL wasted no time getting a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh.

Robbins was also the winning pitcher in the past two UCT championship games.

Sophomore Stephanie Bade drilled a shot to left-center that hit the fence on one bounce, giving GL a leadoff double. Payton Murphy then reached on a bunt single and stole second, putting runners on second and third with nobody out.

New Providence pitcher Cassandra Squeri then walked No. 9 batter Colleen Frank on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. That was the senior right hander’s first base on balls.

With no margin for error, Squeri threw four more balls, with GL courtesy runner Lauryn DiStasio crossing the plate for the game-winning run.

After Johnson took a 1-0 lead as the result of a two Westfield errors in the top of the first, Westfield came right back to score four runs on five hits in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good against the Crusaders, who were seeking to win the UCT for the first time since 1981.

 

CRISCUOLO, SCARANO, SEITZ SPARK WESTFIELD

Westfield junior Julia Criscuolo produced the game-winning hit, which was a two-run double that put the Blue Devils ahead from that point at 3-1. Winning pitcher Elena Scarano made it a 4-1 game when she delivered a run-scoring single.

Another important insurance run was produced in the fifth when Westfield senior Natalie Tupper made it 5-1 after connecting on an RBI-single to center.

Johnson pulled to within 5-4 in the top of the sixth following a three-run homer blasted over the left field fence by senior catcher Stephanie Teixeira, who was 2-for-3 on the day, including a strikeout and a single.

It was only the second home run hit over a fence that Scarano gave up this year, the first one coming in a 10-0 loss at Watchung Hills on May 1.

After giving up a single following the round-tripper, Scarano retired the last four batters she faced, including a 1-2-3 seventh that came with the help of a nice catch made in center field.

“Elena adjusted fine after the home run,” MacDonald said. “She’s so cool for us mentally.”

Standout senior Sarah Seitz, Westfield’s No. 9 batter, went 3-for-3, including a double in the third and singles in the fourth and sixth.

Johnson sophomore center fielder Stephanie Donah hit the ball hard and deep and also displayed a very strong throwing arm.

NOTES: This will be the fourth straight championship game played at Kean.

Here are the scores from the first three:

2012: Gov. Livingston 9, New Providence 2

2011: Gov. Livingston 8, Westfield 1

2010: Cranford 4, Gov. Livingston 3

 

 

FIRST SEMIFINAL

3-NEW PROVIDENCE (12-4)      2     0      0       0     0     1       0 – 3  9  1

2-GOV. LIVINGSTON (14-7)       0     0      0       0     0     3       1 – 4  8  0

 

WINNING PITCHER:

Gov. Livingston senior RH Jordan Robbins (11-5)

7 innings complete: 3 runs (all earned), 9 hits, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk

LOSING PITCHER:

New Providence senior RH Cassandra Squeri (9-4)

6 innings, plus 4 batters complete: 4 runs (3 earned), 8 hits, 1 strikeout, 2 walks

DOUBLES: New Providence – Elizabeth Mohan, Kelsey Quinn. Gov. Livingston – Stephanie Bade 2.

TRIPLES: New Providence – Jenna Madden. Gov. Livingston – None.

HOME RUNS: New Providence – None. Gov. Livingston – None.

 

 

SECOND SEMIFINAL

4-JOHNSON (10-9)          0     0      1       0     0     3       0 – 4    8  0

1-WESTFIELD (17-5)        0     0      4       0     1     0       0 – 5  11  2

 

WINNING PITCHER:

Westfield junior RH Elena Scarano (12-2)

7 innings complete: 4 runs (3 earned), 8 hits, 5 strikeouts, 0 walks

LOSING PITCHER:

Johnson sophomore RH Emily Bailey (7-5)

6 innings complete: 5 runs (all earned), 11 hits, 1 strikeout, 1 walk

DOUBLES: Johnson – Jamie Cheeka. Westfield – Sarah Seitz, Julia Criscuolo, Elena Scarano.

TRIPLES: Johnson – None. Westfield – None.

HOME RUNS: Johnson – Stephanie Teixeira. Westfield – None.

 

38th ANNUAL SOFTBALL UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT

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.

 

PRELIMINARY ROUND:

Wednesday, May 1

Brearley 17, Hillside 0 – at Brearley

Union 15, Roselle Catholic 12 – at Roselle Catholic

Thursday, May 2

Summit 20, Plainfield 0 – at Summit

Scotch Plains 17, Benedictine 2 – at Scotch Plains

Kent Place 12, Oak Knoll 2 – at Oak Knoll

 

FIRST ROUND:

Friday, May 3

Gov. Livingston 11, Union 1 – at Gov. Livingston

Saturday, May 4

Brearley 13, Rahway 11 – at Rahway

Johnson 6, Summit 1 – at Johnson

Cranford 12, Dayton 5 – at Dayton

Westfield 16, Kent Place 1 – at Westfield

Roselle Park 6, Linden 5 (8 inn.) – at Roselle Park

Elizabeth 4, Union Catholic 2 – at Elizabeth

New Providence 15, Scotch Plains 0 – at New Providence

 

QUARTERFINALS:

Friday, May 10

Johnson 5, Brearley 4 – at Johnson

Westfield 4, Cranford 0 – at Westfield

New Providence 3, Elizabeth 2 – at New Providence

Gov. Livingston 4, Roselle Park 0 – at Gov. Livingston

 

SEMIFINALS:

Saturday, May 18

At Kean University’s Cougar Field

Gov. Livingston 4, New Providence 3

Westfield 5, Johnson 4

 

FINAL:

Sunday, May 19

At Kean University’s Cougar Field

2-Gov. Livingston vs. 1-Westfield, noon

 

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),

Gov. Livingston (5), Cranford (5)

Roselle Park (3), Johnson Regional (2),

Scotch Plains (1), Linden (1), Union Catholic (1), Brearley (1).

COMMENTS