LINDEN, NJ - A base running decision secured the Union County Tournament championship for the Governor Livingston High School varsity softball team Friday night, as the Highlanders beat the Arthur L Johnson High School Crusaders 1-0 in what became a pitchers’ duel.
It came in the bottom of the second inning, when GL senior Nicole Trezza got on base. She went to second on a wild pitch and stole third base. In a split-second decision, she broke for home plate and came in safely to give her team the lead.
“I’m always aggressive on the bases and I knew it was going to be a close game,” Trezza said. “I knew that I was going to have to do something to score a run and I knew for my team, we needed a run. As soon as I saw that ball bounce off the catcher’s glove, I just bolted for third and I just saw the ball and ran home and it was the greatest feeling ever.”
The pitchers were in complete control, with Johnson senior Gianna Randazza and GL senior Alanna Namit both throwing complete games. There were 15 strikeouts and not too much action following hits.
“This game was a carbon copy of the last time we played at their place when we went to extra innings,” Governor Livingston head coach Mike Roof said, speaking of the May 2 game. GL won that battle 2-1 in nine innings. “A good old pitchers’ duel and obviously you saw not a lot of hits. Both of them [Randazza and Namit] pitched their hearts out and were very effective.”
“We took advantage of an opportunity with our speed on the base-paths and that was the difference today, basically,” Roof added.
Trailing in the top of the fourth inning, the Crusaders put two runners on base, but couldn’t come across with a run. Johnson junior Lauren Donah broke for third base following a double off the bat of senior Gianna Randazza. In a close play, Donah was called out.
The Highlanders and Crusaders each left three runners on base, but Governor Livingston finished off Johnson for the win, giving them the title they had hoped to capture last year.
“It’s the fact that we’re all seniors and we wanted this to be a really big win for us,” Namit said. “We wanted it last year, but it didn’t happen, but Gianna [Randazza]’s an amazing pitcher and we just finally went out there and we got it this year.”
In the top of the sixth inning, Governor Livingston senior Christine Pacheco came up with a huge play on defense. As Donah hit a high fly-ball to shallow right-field, Pacheco dove for the catch, taking away a hit.
“I’ve been working at diving a lot at practice and know I’ve had opportunities in a game where I haven’t, so in my head, I said, ‘I’m going for this hard and I’m going to get it,’” Pacheco said. “I’m glad it worked out.”
In the loss, Randazza threw a no-hitter, but the Crusaders are looking ahead to the state tournament and their remaining games.
“I told the girls they have to stick together,” Johnson head coach Chris Di Nucci said. “They worked their tails off and they played really, really hard today. There were a few opportunities where we could’ve snuck a run across.”
“We had the one inning where we strung some hits together,” Di Nucci said, of the fourth. “We had an unfortunate call at third where she was called out. That was a close call. Even with that, there were still opportunities in the game. [GL’s] a good softball team. They had our number this year, but a 1-0 game can go either way. I’m proud of our girls and we’re looking forward to the state tournament.”
The Johnson Crusaders (15-8) will take on Bernards HS in a regular season game Monday afternoon at 4 p.m.
The Governor Livingston Highlanders (19-2) will head back on the road to play at Brearley HS Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m.