CHATHAM, NJ - Morgan Pellegrin enjoys the mental aspect of playing softball. So when the Chatham senior got up to bat in the seventh inning of a tie game last Saturday, she took note of the situation.

"Seventh inning, one out, no one on base," Pellegrin said. "I just wanted to put the ball in play because I knew we had a good lineup behind me. She threw a good pitch and I just drove it to left."

Pellegrin turned on an inside pitch and hit it over the left-field fence for a home run at Shunpike Field, giving Chatham a walk-off 2-1 win over Hanover Park and earning the Lady Cougars the championship of their Cancer Awareness Tournament.

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"It's the first one I ever hit over the fence for a home run in my life," Pellegrin said. "It was the first inside pitch she threw to me all day. I didn't think it was going to go over the fence."

Morgan Pellegrin is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.

Pellegrin is an excellent math student, but she isn't the one to ask about her numbers for the Chatham softball team.

"I have no idea what my average is, I don't even know how to find my stats" Pellegrin said.

In case anyone is interested, Pellegrin is batting .440 with 11 hits and eight RBI through the first eight games as the No. 3 hitter for Chatham (6-2).

One number she takes pride in is her 4.5 grade-point average, which puts her in the top six percent of her class and has gained her entry into the University of Virginia. An Advanced Placement STEM student, she plans to study chemical engineering. Her twin sister, Hallie, has a higher GPA and is headed to Notre Dame.

"Academics are my priority," she said. "I'm going to miss playing softball because I won't be playing in college. Playing with my friends is the best part about softball. I've been playing with a lot of them since the fourth grade. It's a lot of fun because of the camaraderie you're allowed to have in between innings and in the field."

The Pellegrins are co-captains of the Chatham team. A first baseman, Morgan credits third baseman Hallie for the extra work she put in, throwing balls into the dirt so Morgan could improve her scoop skills.

"She's my best friend," Morgan said. "We get along so well because we're very competitive people. We compete for everything we do. We've always been on the same team. We want to make it to the county finals again."

Morgan Pellegrin takes her role as captain seriously, walking the fine line between friend and team leader for coach Brian Figueiredo.

"The one thing I can say about her as the captain, she has the balance of being a great teammate and the responsibility that comes with being captain," Figueiredo said. "She knows that you can joke around and be friends with everyone, but when things aren't being done right, she lays down the law and gets the team back to business. She has a great personality.

"She soaks it up and loves being out there. Morgan is a winning player and a top-notch person, which is going to take her way, way past softball."

The 17-year-old has stuck with softball since a young age because she likes the mental part of the game.

"I don't like writing essays or thinking too hard about things, I like solving problems, Pellegrin said. "In softball, everything is logical, that's why I like playing it so much. You get the ball and you have to know where to throw it."

Pellegin is known for her ability to hit a line drive, but her all-around game is appreciated by her coach.

"She's completely underrated as a fielder and a base runner," Figueiredo said. "She'll be the first to admit she's not the fastest runner, but she's one of our top three base runners. She has that savvy on the bases to get a good lead and anticipate a ball in the dirt. 

"At first base, she has great technique in picking up balls in the dirt. She understands what position she has to be in to make the play, and what needs to be done in what situation."

Editor's note: The Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week is sponsored by the John Hawk Agency. John and his team have been protecting local families and business owners for over 12 years. Call them at  973-635-9494 for a new auto, home, life and business insurance quote this week and if you mention the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week they will make a $20 contribution to the Chatham Booster Club! To learn more, visit the agency website