BRIDGEWATER, NJ – Much like graduating senior baseball players throughout New Jersey participated in The Last Dance World Series (LDWS) in July, eight softball teams consisting of graduating seniors from 11 Somerset County high schools had an opportunity to compete in their own summer tournament.

The North Bridge Street Complex is serving as the host site of the two-day Somerset County Softball Tournament: Summer Edition (SCST).

Hosted by the Bridgewater Township Parks & Recreation Department and, like the LDWS, the tournament opened with pool play. Each participating team was therefore guaranteed to play at least three games against the remaining teams in their pool. The most notable difference from the LDWS is that, in the SCST, games were given a time limit of 90 minutes. Each of the complex’s two softball fields simultaneously hosted the six games from their corresponding teams’ pools from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Aug.10 (12 total games in just under 12 hours).

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Two of these eight teams also consisted of players from multiple Somerset County high schools. Players from North Plainfield High School participated as members of the Bound Brook tournament team, while players from both Rutgers Prep and Immaculata participated as members of the Manville/Prep tournament team.

Field 1 hosted the pool play games between Bridgewater-Raritan, Bound Brook, Manville/Prep and Hillsborough. Field 2 simultaneously hosted the pool play games between Bernards, Somerville, Montgomery and Watchung Hills. The two teams from Field 1 and the two teams from Field 2 with the best records at the conclusion of their pools’ six games clinched berths in the semifinals taking place Aug. 11 at 6 p.m., with the championship contest taking place immediately afterwards.

Bridgewater-Raritan finished 1-2 and third in the Field 1 pool, defeating Bound Brook 9-1 and falling to eventual pool winners Manville/Prep and Hillsborough by scores of 10-0 and 7-2, respectively.

The Panthers drew an 8 a.m. contest against Bound Brook to open the tournament and got off to a strong start. Leading 2-1 in the top of the third inning after RBIs by Gianna Lentini and Melanie Artuso, they broke the game open with five straight two-out hits. RBIs by graduating seniors Kristen Lee and Grace DeAgazio along with Brianna Portella, Artuso, and Taylor Cannon in five consecutive at-bats extended Bridgewater-Raritan’s lead to 8-1. Keiley Hisko drove in Jalynda Mercado in the 4th inning for the game’s final official run, and starting pitcher Gianna Catena only allowed three hits, one run, and one walk while striking out six Crusaders batters in a complete-game performance on the way to a 9-1 victory in five innings.

Eight of the nine runs scored by Bridgewater-Raritan against Bound Brook came with two outs.

Mercado finished the game against 4-for-4 with four runs for Bridgewater-Raritan in a contest where the Panthers’ offense unofficially had 14 hits (including four to open the top of the 6th) and drew four walks (one in the top of the 6th). The 90-minute time limit was after the top of sixth inning, so two more runs scored by the Panthers in addition to all other stats in the top of the 6th inning did not count in the official scoring. In these cases, official scoring accounted for all full innings played by both teams, giving the Panthers a 9-1 victory in five innings.

While the Panthers started the tournament 1-0 as a result of their big win against Bound Brook, they played again at 10 a.m. and ran into a buzzsaw in Manville/Prep.

Starting pitcher and graduating senior Gianna DeLorenzo, who participated as a representative of Rutgers Prep, pitched a complete-game shutout for Manville/Prep, and a seven-run 2nd inning by the offense propelled them to a 10-0 victory in five innings over Bridgewater-Raritan.

The Panthers did not play again until the 6 p.m. Field 1 pool finale against Hillsborough, who defeated Bound Brook and Manville/Prep by final scores of 10-0 and 3-0, respectively, heading into the contest. Manville/Prep clinched the first of two tournament semifinals berths from Field 1 with a 5-1 victory over Bound Brook, and Hillsborough controlled its own destiny for the remaining berth heading into its contest against Bridgewater-Raritan.

While any potential tiebreaker scenario heavily favored Hillsborough, the Raiders left no doubt in the pool finale.

Katherine Rygiel led off with a double in the top of the 1st inning, and graduating senior Courtney Wengryn drove her in to quickly open the game’s scoring. Sierra Skala then blasted a two-run bomb over the fence and towards Prince Rodgers Avenue to give Hillsborough an early 3-0 lead over Bridgewater-Raritan.

Wengryn, Skala and Raiders starting pitcher Mikayla O’Neill each added an RBI in the 2nd inning to double Hillsborough’s lead, and one more RBI by O’Neill in the top of the 5th frame rounded out the official scoring for the Raiders. Mercado drove in the Panthers’ lone two runs in the bottom of the 5th inning, and while Hillsborough scored four more runs in the top of the 7th frame, the 90-minute time limit was reached, officially giving Hillsborough a 7-2 victory over Bridgewater-Raritan in six innings.

FINAL POOL STANDINGS:
Bridgewater-Raritan finished the tournament with a 1-2 record in pool play. At the conclusion of the Field 1 pool, the final standings were as follows with the top two teams advancing to the semifinals:
1. Hillsborough (3-0)*
2. Manville/Prep (2-1)*
3. Bridgewater-Raritan (1-2)

4. Bound Brook (0-3)

GRADUATING SENIOR PLAYERS:
Per the tournament program, the following graduating senior members of the Class of 2020 participated in the Somerset County Softball Tournament: Summer Edition.
BERNARDS (4): Riley DeMarrais, Bri Harzula, Shannon Harzula, Callie Hunnewell
BOUND BROOK (11): Britney Dehortameza (North Plainfield), Ariana Gaeton (North Plainfield), Sophie Hector, Samantha Issler, Veronica Paredes, Lenise Phillips (North Plainfield), Sara Rodriguez-Deol (North Plainfield), Lauren Romero, Cristina Rosa, Jimena Torres (North Plainfield), Emily Toy
BRIDGEWATER-RARITAN (4): Maddie Capetta, Grace DeAgazio, Kristen Lee, Jalynda Mercado
HILLSBOROUGH (7): Michelle Fratianni, Anisha Gademsky, Nicole Kazantis, Mikayla O’Neill, Emily Orr, Lauren Spalluto, Courtney Wengryn
MANVILLE/PREP (6): Alyssa Dima, Rileigh Gylynn (Immaculata), Angelina Loaiza, Bella Loaiza, Brianna Rivera, Gianna DeLorenzo (Rutgers Prep)
MONTGOMERY (3): Sierra Cooper, Christine Willard, Madison Wilson
SOMERVILLE (1): Julia LaFrankie
WATCHUNG HILLS (1): Sophia Cicchetti

NEXT UP:
While they have been eliminated from the main event, the Panthers were represented in the highly-anticipated 2020 SCST Home Run Derby.

Bridgewater-Raritan’s Maddie Capetta and Kayla Holguin participated as the team’s senior participant and underclassman participant, respectively. They competed against fellow representatives from the seven other participating teams, starting at 3:30 p.m. at the North Bridge Street Complex Aug. 11.

Following the Home Run Derby, the tournament semifinals: Manville/Prep vs. Watchung Hills and Montgomery vs. Hillsborough, were held at 6 p.m. on both Field 1 and Field 2. The winners of each competed in the championship game on Field 1 immediately afterwards.

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