BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Governor Livingston Highlanders softball team shut out the Bridgewater-Raritan Panthers, 2-0. With Wednesday's win, the Highlanders improved to 15-4 while the Panthers’ loss also dropped them to 15-4.
Tuesday’s victory was all about pitching and defense. Governor Livingston pitcher Alanna Namit turned in one of the team’s better pitching performances of the season. Namit pitched a complete game and allowed just five hits and no walks.
“Alanna was crisp today and did a good job keeping Bridgewater’s hitters off-balance,” Governor Livingston head coach Mike Roof said. “She did a good job hitting her spots when needed and kept our defense ready.”
As for that defense, Tuesday’s win as good a defensive performance for the team all year. The Highlanders were sound and sharp defensively and made the key plays that win softball games.
One of those key plays came during the fourth inning. After Governor Livingston took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third, the Panthers’ offense woke up in the top of the fourth. With runners on first and second, the Panthers were threatening to tie the game and perhaps take the lead. With her team reeling a bit, Governor Livingston shortstop Steph Bade made as good a defensive play that Roof has ever seen. A Bridgewater-Raritan player hit a hard line drive between second and third base that was poised to make its way past Bade into the outfield. Refusing to let the Panthers gain more momentum, Bade made a great diving play on the ball before proceeding to force the runner on second base out.
Bade’s play settled her teammates down as the Highlanders were able to get out the inning unscathed. “Steph’s play was as good a play I’ve ever seen and curtailed what could have been a big inning for Bridgewater-Raritan,” Roof said. “The girls were very good on defense today. They made the routine plays and made some tough catches in the infield.”
Governor Livingston’s defensive masterpiece overshadowed a quiet day at the plate. The Panthers actually outhit the Highlanders, 5-3, but getting outhit doesn’t matter if those hits don’t translate into runs as was the Panthers’ case on Tuesday.
The Highlanders, on the other hand, did manage to turn their hits into scores and had just enough output at the plate to win the game. Namit, Bade, and Hayley Berliner registered the team’s only hits of the game, and it was Namit who helped score one of the team’s two runs in the third.
Namit’s RBI single scored Taylor Hendrzak and gave the team a 1-0 lead. The Highlanders would score another run later in the inning to give them the necessary cushion to control the remainder of Tuesday’s defensive slugfest.
“This was one of our better overall performances of the year,” Roof said. “We executed offensively in the few opportunities we had and did an overall good job executing in key moments of the game. Our timely hitting, key plays defensively, and good consistent pitching is evidence that we executed in all facets of the game.”
While it can be tough for a coach to evaluate what can improve after such a dominant performance, Roof wants his team to remain even-keeled. The Highlanders will undoubtedly head into Friday’s Union County Tournament Final against Cranford with loads of confidence. With that confidence, the Highlanders will need to carry the same chip on their shoulders they brought into Tuesday’svictory.
“After a win like today, we can’t get overconfident and complacent,” Roof said. “We need to have the same levelheadedness and same amount of mental toughness that we displayed today.”