CHATHAM, NJ - Melissa Landry believes the Chatham softball team is making a name for itself as a team that can pull out a game in its last at-bat.
The Chatham pitcher's teammates brought back that feeling of deja vu from last year's Morris County Tournament with a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh that lifted the fourth-seeded Lady Cougars to a 3-2 win over No. 5 Hanover Park on Saturday at the Chatham Middle School.
"I feel like we're kind of making a name for ourselves in the county tournament to kind of come back and win," Landry, the winning pitcher, said. "So I had faith. It was the bottom of the lineup, which I was a little shaky about, but they just proved themselves so much and I have so much respect for them."
The bottom part of the Chatham batting order ignited the rally from the 2-1 deficit, which was capped by Morgan Tobin's RBI squeeze bunt and Bonnie Kennedy's run-scoring grounder.
The win puts Chatham (11-4) into the MCT semifinals for the second straight year, with the Lady Cougars meeting Morris Knolls, 7 p.m. Saturday, May 6 at Landing Park in Roxbury.
"Here we go again, get our bus ready to go and the sandwiches," Chatham coach Brian Figueiredo said.
A two-out, two-run single by Amanda Bermel that dropped inside the right-field line in the top of the sixth had erased a 1-0 deficit for Hanover Park (11-2).
In the bottom of the seventh, it was still 2-1 when No. 7 batter Hallie Pellegrin led off for Chatham. The senior third baseman changed the complexion of the game when she jumped on the first pitch and pulled it to left. The ball hit the fence on one hop and Pellegrin motored into second with a leadoff double.
Kelly Krincek was next and she was asked to bunt Pellegrin to third. But she fouled off two straight attempts and had to swing away with two strikes. Krincek made it all turn out right when she hit a slow roller to second and beat it out for a base hit. Kaitlin Pinaire then ran for Krincek and stole second to put runners on second and third.
Hallie Pellegrin and Kelly Krincek talk about Chatham's rally in the bottom of the 7th
Tobin then put down a squeeze bunt that sent Pellegrin home with the tying run and advanced Pinaire to third.
Morgan Tobin's squeezes home the tying run in the bottom of the 7th for Chatham
With the score tied, that brought up the top of the order and Kennedy, who was looking to hit the ball hard somewhere.
"I was a little stressed out," Kennedy said. "I just wanted to make contact. I was trying to hit a line drive. I wanted to hit it hard. I was having trouble with outside pitches today. I was just happy we could get the run in. I want to make it to the final this year and win it."
Anna Lengner singles across the first run of the game for Chatham
A year ago, Chatham scored late to defeat Morris Knolls, 1-0, in the MCT quarterfinals and then, in the semifinals, rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh to upset Jefferson, 6-5.
The only two losses for Hanover Park this season have come at the hands of Chatham. On April 8, Morgan Pellegrin hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh to give the Lady Cougars a 2-1 win.
Chatham had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a walk by Kennedy, a stolen base and an RBI single by Anna Lengner.
Landry (7-3) pitched a three-hitter for Chatham, striking out six and walking one. She pitched one-hit ball through the first five innings.