BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Heights Heat 12U and 10U Fall Softball Teams both completed successful Fall Seasons in the Cranford Fall Softball League this past weekend.
After both going 2-0 in the first weekend of the playoffs, both teams playoff runs continued in the semi-finals with dominant victories that landed both in their Divisional Championship games.
The 12U girls battled a tough Springfield squad Saturday morning, taking a big lead early on in the contest and never looking back as the strong pitching of Katie Debello and Bri Monaco continued throughout their playoff run.
Monaco pitched the first three innings of the semis, finishing with six strikeouts letting up one run while Debello finished off the last two innings with four strikeouts and one run over two innings.
The Heat bats continued their resurgence through the playoffs with hits coming throughout the lineup in a dominant offensive surge that put the Heat into the Championship Game.
In the other semi-final, Madison faced Westfield in a back and forth battle that lasted almost three hours keeping the Heat waiting anxiously to find out who their opponent would be and take the field.
The Heat ultimately faced off with Westfield in the Championship game, a rematch of the final regular season game that saw Westfield take a 15-2 lead into the final inning only to see the Heat score 10 runs to narrowly miss what would have been a memorable comeback.
The girls knew exactly what had to be done to win the Championship and cap their season with four straight playoff wins and went out and successfully reached their goal.
Led by Katie Debello’s continued strong playoff pitching, the Heat held Westfield to two runs in the first four innings with Debello striking out six. Monaco followed closing out the last three innings giving up three runs with five strikeouts.
In support of their pitchers, the Heat fielders stepped up and played their finest game of the season highlighted by a running outfield catch by Jenny Lejeuz, two outfield putouts by Maddy Vazquez, and a second playoff game ending catch by Kira Debello to secure the championship!
Lejeuz made a phenomenal stop in left field, turning and gunning the ball to Bri Monaco at third for what was a clutch putout in the middle of a bases loaded jam.
Kate Granelli continued her excellence at catcher, catching all 12 innings of the semifinal and championship games with numerous blocks that prevented any runners from scoring from third on a passed ball.
Leading only 3-2 after three innings The Heat bats exploded in the 4th and 5th innings led by a Grand Slam by Granelli, a triple by Angela Heintz, multiple hits from Izzy Anders, Alina Murad, and Audrey Rosenberger.
It is never an easy task to win four playoff games in a row, but after the season ending loss the 12U Heat focused on the fundamentals in their last two practices and took that enthusiasm to the field to win each of their final four games including the redemption of the season ending loss to Westfield.
The 10U Girls battled Cranford in their semi-final on Friday night, setting up their showdown with the No. 1 seed and undefeated Summit in the Championship, ironically at the same time as the 12U girls, on the field right next door.
The game quickly became a pitching battle, with Alyssa Monaco and Olivia Rosenberger combining to pitch six quality innings letting up only two total runs against a team that was undefeated and averaged double digits the entire season.
The girls came out swinging, taking a 1-0 lead in the second inning that held through the third, but ultimately Summit was able to squeeze out two runs over the final three innings to secure the victory.
The 10U Heat fell just short following the same fate in this past summer’s Parkway League Championship, but they did Berkeley Heights and the Height Heat program proud once again this fall.
The BH PAL congratulates all six fall Heights Heat teams on great seasons, and look forward to continued success this spring.