Softball: Pair Of Victories Propel Highlanders to Tournament Championship

Credits: Stephen O’Keefe
Credits: Stephen O’Keefe
Credits: Stephen O’Keefe
Credits: Stephen O’Keefe
Credits: Stephen O’Keefe
Credits: Stephen O’Keefe
Credits: Stephen O’Keefe
Credits: Stephen O’Keefe
Credits: Stephen O’Keefe
Credits: Stephen O’Keefe
Credits: Stephen O’Keefe
Credits: Stephen O’Keefe

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - In Saturday’s four-team tournament, the Governor Livingston softball team captured a pair of wins that included a 9-2 victory over Summit in the first round and a 6-1 victory over Columbia in the final. The Highlanders now own a 7-2 record thanks to the pair of victories.

The Highlanders received a strong pitching performance from Julian Lopes in the first game. The junior’s complete game included seven strikeouts.

“We didn’t start the first game well but as the game progressed, we got better and applied more pressure offensively and defensively,” head coach Mike Roof said.

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The Highlanders jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead over Summit in the first inning but relinquished that lead when the Hilltoppers scored a pair of runs in the second to go on top, 2-1.

“We were able to get a run in the first inning pretty quickly,” Roof said. “Even though we got the quick lead, we still weren’t mentally and physically there yet. But we were able to get fired up after falling behind, 2-1.”

The Highlanders responded with three runs in the third inning and never looked back. The three-run third was the start of an 8-0 edge to close the game. 

The Highlanders received strong contributions at the plate from senior Jaime Belfer, who had three hits on the day, and senior Jen Murowski, junior Janey Morabito, and sophomore Julia McConekey, who all had two hits.

“We did a good job taking advantage of their mistakes,” Roof said. “We started hitting much better the second and third time through the order while at the same time receiving good pitching from Julian and being solid defensively.”

The second game took a bit more from the Highlanders as the Highlanders needed extra innings to put the Cougars away. Much of Saturday’s final was a defensive slugfest. 

As was the case in the first game, the Highlanders jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning. This time, the Highlanders went cold at the plate for much of the game before exploding for five runs in the extra inning.

“Once again, we jumped out on them early but then the bats went cold,” Roof said. “We had decent at-bats but we just couldn’t get hits. But you have to give Columbia a ton of credit with how they were able to get back into the game.”

After the Cougars tied the game in the fifth inning, the Cougars threatened to score more runs with the bases loaded. The savvy veteran Belfer was able to get out of the jam which provided the Highlanders with a much-needed boost.

“After we got out of that bases loaded jam, we were much better,” Roof said. “In the top of the eighth inning, their pitcher got a little fatigued and we took advantage of mistakes from her.”

Sophomore Evan Pollitta opened the eighth inning offensive onslaught with a leadoff triple and the Highlanders didn’t look back from there. “That triple from Evan started a string of four or five consecutive hits to put the game to bed," Roof said.

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