LINDEN, NJ - For the second consecutive year, Westfield Varisty Softball proved to be the better team, defeating Gov. Livingston, 5-2, in the UCT Championship on Saturday at Flanagan Field in Linden.
"We knew they were going to be a really tough team," said Westfield Head Coach Caitlin MacDonald. "We had already beat them twice. We knew they were going to show up to play."
A two-run blast by Shannon Schaefer gave Westfield the early 2-0 lead in the first frame.
"Enough pressure was put on us going into an early deficit in the first inning. They chipped away and got another run. We weren't able to chip away at that lead," said Gov. Livingston Coach Mike Roof. "We were too nervy coming in at the beginning of the game and didn't do enough with runners in scoring positions when we had opportunities."
Westfield opened the fourth inning swinging. Becca Kaufman ripped a double to drive Sam Velez home for the 3-0 lead.
Gov. Livingston right fielder Colleen Franks came through on the defense with a short pop catch for the third out.
Kacie Worswick smacked a double down the right field line to spark the offensive momentum for the Lady Highlanders. Grace Sanzalone followed with a bunt to advance Missy Quinn [pinch runner] to third while getting out on first. The inning would end leaving Quinn in scoring position.
"We didn't do enough with runners in scoring positions when we had opportunities," said Roof. "They [Westfield] had runners on second and third and they had the big hit and got the runners in. We had one big hit. That was the difference."
Carolynne Goldbeck would get the sole RBIs for GL in the fifth to bring the Lady Highlanders within one. She launched a double bringing Hewett and Frank home.
With two outs and tying run on second, Worswick smashed a ball to left field caught by Becca Kaufman, who dove for a "catch of a lifetime."
"Up against the fence, half on the ground - you can't ask for anything more than that," said MacDonald. "Without that defense you are not going to win the game."
Kaufman dove to catch a ball like any other catch. "I forgot what kind of game we were in. I went out, played and had fun. I figured why not get a little dirty," said Kaufman.
Westfield added two more runs with an RBI from Bobbi Snyder in the sixth and Schaefer in the seventh. "One thing we did really well, we were challenged and we kept getting gritty adding one run at a time. They are a really good team and they played really well today. We had to do the little things and we managed to do that," said MacDonald.
Gov. Livingston would have one more attempt in the sixth with two on base from back-to-back singles by Alex Foley and Hayley Berliner. Payton Murphy would appear to be hit by a pitch to load the bases. The plate umpire ruled a strike and the ball hit the bat. The inning would end with two on base.
"I think Caroline [Hewett] did a valiant job. We could have been better in all areas. Leaving the runners stranded in the middle didn't help us," said Roof. "Maybe on another day it's a different result."
"Both teams played a really solid game, we just happened to get a few more hits," said MacDonald.