Lion’s Capture Back-To-Back SCT Softball Championships
Wall, NJ- It took a rain out on Wednesday and some sprinkler issues on Thursday to halt and slow down the Shore Conference Tournament Championship game between #3 Middletown North and #4 Middletown South., but once all water delays were out of the way both teams gave it all they had.
In a rematch of last years SCT Final in which Middletown North won 1-0 over their cross-town rivals, this year the Lions would once again claim the SCT crown this time by a score of 5-2.
The past week and a half has been an up and down stretch for the Lions as the lost in the sectional semifinals to South Plainfield 4-2 and then a day later had to face Donovan Catholic in the SCT quarterfinals. After topping the Griffiths 2-0, they had a rematch with St John Vianney in the semifinals, a team they lost to 4-1 two weeks prior. Middletown North came out on top in this one after scoring three runs in the fourth inning to take the lead for good and went onto top the Lancers 7-3.
In the SCT Final the game started out as a pitchers dual with both North’s Riley Kernan and South’s McMahon shutting down the opposing offenses early on. South would strand three runners in the first three innings while North stranded 2 heading into the fourth inning.
In the top of the fourth inning South's Ally Massa drew a walk and was pinch run for by Sarah Riso. Riso was moved to second on a sac bunt from Maddie McMahon. The Eagles would get on the board first off the bat of Hannah Wisialko who lined an RBI single to centerfield scoring Riso for a 1-0 lead.
The Lions would waste very little time getting on the board as they plated four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 4-1 lead. Riley would get things going for Middletown North when she hit a one out single to center.
Overlooked on the play was her 100th hit of her career, a milestone that took six games to obtain, but no better time to get the hit than to start a rally in the championship game.
Kernan when asked about her 100th hit she laughed and said “it’s great to get that hit, but it didn’t have to take six games to do.”
Riley was pulled for pinch runner Megan Dematteo who moved to second following a walk to Adriana Cerbo. Gabby Cerbo would line a hit right back at South’s pitcher McMahon who would take the liner in the stomach and then threw the ball over the head of Massa at first that would allow Dematteo to score the tying run.
The Lions weren’t done as Ryan Rasmussen hit a sac fly to right scoring Adriana for a 2-1 lead. With two outs, Payleigh Behan lined a single up the middle to score Gaby for a 3-1 lead. Liz Dorsa would drive in the final run of the inning after she singled up the middle scoring Behan for a 4-1 lead after four innings.
The Eagles would get one back in the top of the fifth inning after an infield single from Ciara Sullivan who then moved to second on a fielding error from North’s Dorsi. A fielders choice moved Sullivan to third who then scored three pitches later on a wild pitch for to cut the lead to 4-2 and would also be Middletown South’s final run of the game.
North would add one more in the in the bottom of the fifth inning following and infield pop up that was dropped when McMahon and Massa collided allowing Gaby Cerbo to score from second base for a 5-2 lead.
In the seventh inning Kernan shut the Eagles down in order to finish off her season with 7 innings pitched, 1 earned run, 3 hits and 6 strikeouts.
Afterwards Kernan added “it helps playing a team more than once in a season you have an idea of what they want to do, I just had to stay within my own game plan and do my part to help us to a win.”
North’s coach Marc Rosner added “we had a great season and unfortunately we got knocked out of states but to finish as the #1 team in the Shore is a great accomplishment, especially beating Donovan Catholic, St John Vianney and Middletown South in three straight games.”
With the win Middletown North finished their great season with a record of 27-4 overall and 12-0 in A-North, A-North Champions, Monmouth County Tournament Red Runner-up’s and SCT Champions.
Middletown South fell to 28-4 overall and 10-2 in A-North. The Eagles do have a chance to finish on a high note as the play Saturday in the NJSIAA Group III finals against Steinert at Kean University at 11am.
BOX SCORE: R-H-E
#4 Middletown South 2-3-3
#3 Middletown North 5-4-1
DBL- (MS) Blarr-1
RBI- (MS) Wisialko-1…(MN) Behan-1, Cerbo-1, Dorsa-1, Rasmussen-1
Middletown So.- Maddie McMahon (L) 6IP 4H 5R 1ER 4BB 3K
Middletown No.- Riley Kernan (W) 7IP 3H 2R 1ER 4BB 6K