ROSELLE PARK – Madison Hummel just completed seven innings of one-run pitching.
With her team down a run and just three outs away from its first loss, it was up her to get things going when she led off the bottom of the seventh.
After fouling off several pitches and down in the count, Hummel came through with a hit to center that she raced to second for a double.
If the ball had stayed up just a bit longer Hummel would have flied out to center.
Those types of things become magnified in a game when teams the caliber of Brearley and Roselle Park clash.
Four batters later and the bases loaded now with one out, Hummel would slide home with the tying run on a 6-2 fielder’s choice hit by Paige Junior, with the throw home wide to the first base side.
Two batters later with the bases still loaded and now two down, leadoff batter Hailey Ortega walked on four pitches, sending home Junior from third and giving the undefeated Roselle Park softball team a 2-1 come-from-behind Union County Conference-Mountain Division victory in Thursday’s game played at Roselle Park High School.
Roselle Park improved to 12-0 overall and the defending champs lead the UCC’s Mountain Division at 7-0. The Panthers remain the lone undefeated softball team in Union County.
“I was pretty confident at the plate and knew I would hit the ball,” Hummel said of her seventh-inning at-bat that started the game-winning rally.
“I talked to my dad before my at-bat in the seventh and he told me not to swing at the first pitch,” Junior said. “I knew I wasn’t going to get a pitch as good as that to swing at again, so I did.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking on the bases. The ump was pretty consistent the way he was calling strikes. We all had faith in Hailey.”
Brearley, which fell at home to Roselle Park 1-0 on April 14, had a four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the Mountain Division.
It was the second straight time Brearley lost in the bottom of the seventh at Roselle Park. The first time was by the score of 4-3 in last year’s North 2, Group 1 state championship game.
Roselle Park is now 5-0 in one-run games and has won three games in its last at-bat. The Panthers previously won games in the seventh inning on the road at Bridgewater-Raritan 5-4 on April 11 and at Metuchen 9-5 on April 19.
Both pitchers excelled, with Hummel – a junior right hander – tossing a six-hitter, while striking out 11 and walking one to improve to 10-0.
“We knew this would be a tough game,” Hummel said. “I thought I pitched well even though I gave up those hits.”
Brearley senior righty Michelle Capizzano allowed just three hits – the last two by Hummel – while striking out eight and walking three. Capizzano now has 501 strikeouts and 48 wins for her varsity career.
“Michelle pitched real well,” said Brearley head coach Amy Efchak, at the helm of the Bears since 2003. “We got hits, but didn’t get bunts down.”
Six different Brearley players hit safely, including Capizzano, Caitlyn Ryan, Alyssa Filippone, Nikki Smith, Karyn Shimazu and Olivia Pate.
Hummel was 2-for-2, with a single, a double, a walk and a run. Ortega had Roselle Park’s first hit, a two-out single to center in the third.
Hummell struck out the side in the first, while Capizzano pitched perfect innings in the first, second, fifth and sixth innings.
With two outs and a runner on first in the top of the first, Capizzano singled to center and then Ryan produced an opposite field RBI-single to right to give Brearley an early 1-0 lead.
“We worked with Caitlyn to go the other way and were happy when she got that hit to right field,” Efchak said. “She had a good game.”
That advantage stood up the whole game until the bottom of the seventh.
After Brearley third baseman Shimazu caught a foul ball with runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh, the Bears were two outs away from handing Roselle Park its first loss.
So close – once again – for Brearley, yet so far.
“There’s a lot of little things in a game like this,” said Roselle Park head coach Fran Maggio, at the helm of the Panthers since 1997. “I told the girls that we’re happy that we won, but that it could have gone the other way.
“Michelle Capizzano pitched great. It was just unfortunate for her that the game ended the way it did.”
If these teams meet again in the Union County Tournament it would only be in the final, since they are on different sides of the bracket. They could meet once more in the North 2, Group 1 playoffs.
“Maybe next time,” said Efchak, whose team last defeated Brearley two years ago. Roselle Park was 3-0 against Brearley last year and is now 2-0 so far this year.
“There’s always the cat-and-mouse element to these games,” Maggio said. “I thought Madison pitched well, although she got behind in the count a bit more and Brearley took advantage the way they hit the ball.”
After hits by Smith and Shimazu produced runners on first and second with one out in the sixth, Hummel retired the next two Brearley batters on a strikeout and a ground ball back to her.
“Madison got out of jams,” Maggio said. “That’s the key for us. Madison keeps us in the game even when she’s not pitching her best.”
UNION COUNTY CONFERENCE-MOUNTAIN DIVISION SOFTBALL AT ROSELLE PARK
Brearley (8-3, 5-2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 1 6 0
Roselle Park (7-0, 12-0) 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 – 2 3 0
BREARLEY BEARS (8-3):
10-Nikki Smith, junior shortstop
23-Bree Manresa, sophomore center fielder
22-Karyn Shimazu, senior third baseman
2-Michelle Capizzano, senior pitcher
9-Caitlyn Ryan, junior first baseman
21-Olivia Pate, junior right fielder
15-Alyssa Filippone, junior catcher
31-Hannah Miller, designated player
14-Amanda Griffin, second baseman
5-Olivia Cristillo, senior flex/left fielder
18-Jenna Margaritondo, freshman
24-Jess Swarek, freshman
32-Oliva Deluca, junior
4-Danielle Cherigo, freshman
7-Evelyn Wetzel, sophomore
Head coach: Amy Efchak, 16th season
ROSELLE PARK PANTHERS (12-0):
8-Hailey Ortega, junior catcher
2-Sarah Lippin, sophomore center fielder
24-Angelia Chacon, senior shortstop
5-Madison Hummel, junior pitcher
29-Emma Cieslinski, sophomore first baseman
4-Merissa Gilic, senior right fielder
17-Madison Cieslinski, sophomore second baseman
19-Paige Junior, senior left fielder
6-Alexis Cieslinski, sophomore third baseman
9-Gabrielle Scott, sophomore
13-Megan Mooney, junior
Head coach: Fran Maggio, 22nd season