BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Senior Alanna Namit homered and threw a one-hit shutout, striking out 13, as Gov. Livingston softball (10-2) rolled to an 11-0 victory in the championship game of the Highlander Showdown against Columbia High School on Sunday afternoon. This marks the Lady Highlanders' first tournament title since its inception in 2013.
Gov. Livingston had defeated Summit, 4-1, earlier in the day to reach the championship game. Christine Pacheco pitched 5.1 innings striking out five in the win. Jaime Belfer went three-for-four and Katie Hughes went two-for-three, each scoring two runs.
GL head coach Mike Roof credits the Summit pitcher Sami Auerbach for a tremendous job keeping his team off balance. "She did a great job giving us trouble," said Roof.
Against Columbia, the Lady Highlanders jumped out to a five run lead in the bottom of the first after Columbia starting pitcher Catherine John walked four, with bases loaded, senior Katie Debbie hit a deep double to bring home three runners .
In the second, the Lady Highlanders continued with timely hitting when Namit smacked a three run home run to drive in Belfer and Maddie Phillips, making it 8-0.
After taking out the next three Columbia batters, Namit's next at bat brought home Belfer on a drive to short stop. Pacheco's sacrifice fly in the fourth scored Hughes and advanced Alyssa Hammer to third, who stole home to cap the 11-0 mercy rule win.
Columbia was never a scoring threat for Namit, however, she gave their batters credit for challenging her with every count. "This team is a very strong team -- they were challenging me within the counts," she said. "Every count was a battle."
The Lady Highlanders came into the weekend off an incredible week defeating county foe Arthur L. Johnson, 9-6, and getting by Watchung Hills, 8-7, [state ranked No. 3 by NJ Advanced Media] with a big six run 5th inning.
"It seems like there are certain games where we struggle with certain types of pitching and then we see better teams and we rise to the occasion," said Roof. "When we see better pitches -- we tend to really get locked in and focused and stream a couple hits together here and there."
Namit credits the team's success to the support for each other. "We knew we had to be in the game and we were all up on the fence together and that helped us win the game," said Namit of the "big big" Watchung Hills win.
The Lady Highlanders will now prepare for the Union County Tournament that starts this week. They enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed hosting the winner of Linden and Kent Place on Saturday. They seek to reach the finals for the eighth straight year.
"We have to focus one game at a time and that's how we will get there," said Namit. "Cranford [No. 2 seed] is a big big opponent and so is ALJ. You never know with this game."
Up next, GL will celebrate their seniors under the lights Tuesday night at Deerfield School in Mountainside in a ceremony prior to their game against Elizabeth. First pitch at 7 p.m.