With streaking rival No. 6 New Providence standing between them and their second consecutive Union County Championship, the top-seeded Governor Livingston Varsity Softball team knew they would have to play their best game of the tournament.
“We just took it as any other game,” said catcher Jenna Kulback. “Just focused on this game and not things that have happened in the past.”
After being tested several times on their route to the tournament final, the Highlanders did just that as they turned in an impressive performance that resulted to a 9-2 victory and their second consecutive county championship on Saturday afternoon. Governor Livingston did all the small things in their victory, showing off some impressive base running and sterling defense behind starter Jordan Robbins (7 IP, 2 ER, 5 K).
Robbins, who also picked up the win in last year’s county championship, was in control throughout and kept the Pioneers off the scoreboard after the first inning. Kulback led the way offensively for the Highlanders going 4-5 and driving in three runs on the day.
Governor Livingston jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first on a pair of RBI singles from Kulback and Kelly Goense. The Pioneers responded in the bottom of the inning with a rally of their own, tying the game on Ameila Ekert’s sac fly and a Nicole Saitta bloop single.
“They came into the game hot and on a winning streak,” said winning pitcher Jordan Robbins, who improved to 18-2 with the win. “My offense did a great job of backing me up today.”
Looking to get the lead back for their starter, the Governor Livingston bats quickly went back to work. The rally began with Alex Fetter reaching second base on a throwing error from starter Cassandra Squeri (7 IP, 5 K) after fielding a dribbler. Fetter scored from second on Paige Murphy’s bloop single thanks to some aggressive base running. The Highlanders were back ahead at 3-2 and would never relinquish the advantage.
“It was great to get her those runs back,” said Kulback. “It gave her more confidence throughout the game and we got some more confidence, too. We feed off of each other’s energy.”
Emily Beisser drew a walk after being hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Next up was first baseman Stephanie Caltado, who ripped a single to drive in Murphy. Cataldo advanced to second on the throw to the plate and Beisser to third.
That brought up Kulback, who responded by blasting a two-RBI double to right center field to put the Highlanders ahead 6-2. After quickly retiring the Pioneers in the bottom of the frame, the Governor Livingston bats stayed red hot in the third, adding two more runs to their total on a two-RBI single for Murphy.
Governor Livingston added one more run in the top of the sixth on Jessie Merone’s RBI single to bring the tally to 9-2.
New Providence was able to get eight hits off of Robbins, but were unable to threaten after their first inning stretch. The Pioneers got two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the sixth after Kaylin Ricciardi’s single, but were unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
The Pioneers look to get back to their winning ways when they travel to Plainfield on today. Governor Livingston begins their quest for some more hardware when they host Spotswood on Tuesday afternoon in the first of the NJSIAA state tournament.
|Governor Livingston Highlanders||2||4||2||0||0||1||0||9|
|New Providence Pioneers||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||2|