CHATHAM, NJ - The game went according to plan in the season opener for Chatham's first-year softball coach Joelle Della Volpe on Thursday in a 4-0 victory over Bergen Tech at the middle school. The catch is that she didn't get to see it.
Della Volpe was suspended by Chatham High Principal Darren Groh hours before the first game of the season for reasons that have yet to be revealed. Neither Groh nor Chatham Athletic Director Bill Librera have responded to requests for an official statement.
When reached by phone, Della Volpe declined to comment.
In an interview with TAP into Chatham before the season started, Della Volpe indicated that senior pitcher Susie Wolsch would start and that pitchers Anya Raadam and Melissa Landry would follow to "Keep the other team off balance."
She also stated that the team would play more small ball (bunting to advance runners) and that they would be aggressive in running the bases. All of those plans came to pass on Thursday in Chatham's victory over Bergen Tech (1-1).
Wolsch started the game and allowed only a bloop single in the second inning, striking out five in her three shutout innings. Sophomore Melissa Landry then came on in the fourth inning and finished to earn her first varsity victory, allowing two hits while striking out four.
"They told me I was going to pitch, I just didn't know when," Landry said.
Assistant coaches Dave Shellenhamer and Anabel Rodriguez guided the team in Della Volpe's absence, using the lineup and the strategy that the coach had set up.
"We executed her plan," Rodriguez said.
Senior co-captains Isabel Chin and Liz Silveira produced the first run of the season in the fourth inning for Chatham. Chin reached on a ball hit to short that was ruled an error before racing home on Silveira's double. Freshman second baseman Chloe Blanc then bunted Silveira to third before she scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
"We had two big plays on bunts in the game," Shellenhamer said.
In the fifth, Shea Matta led off with a single and went from first to third on a sacrifice bunt by Bonnie Kennedy. Matta alertly hustled into third base when she noticed no one was covering the bag. Matta then scored on a single to right by freshman shortstop Camryn Davies for a 3-0 advatage.
In the sixth, Silveira singled, was bunted to second by Blanc and scored on a ground single up the middle by Hallie Pellegrin.
In the seventh, Matta made a strong throw from right field that nearly doubled off the runner at first to end the game. The next batter then hit a line drive that Blanc gloved to clinch it.
Hallie Pellegrin's single up the middle scores LIz Silveira in the sixth inning for Chatham
Melissa Landry pitched four scoreless innings to earn her first varsity victory for Chatham
Chloe Blanc moves the runner over with a bunt in the sixth inning for Chatham