LINDEN, NJ- The No. 1 ranked Johnson Crusaders faced off against the No. 8 ranked Brearley Bears in the softball Union County Tournament quarterfinals Friday afternoon in Linden. The Crusaders overpowered Brearley, dominating throughout the game and finishing it off with a shut-out win, 15-0.
After working through the top of the first, the Crusaders got their bats going, and took full control with a seven-run streak at the bottom of the inning. The Crusaders started it off with two runs on errors and an RBI single from senior Kristen Meagher.
The major hit of the inning came off the bat of junior Stephanie Visconti. With the bases loaded and nobody out, she sent a 3-2 pitch from Brearley pitcher Michelle Capizzano deep to center field and over the fence for a grand slam that extended her team’s lead to 7-0.
In the game, Visconti went 1-3 with a grand slam, and recorded six RBIs.
She felt good to get a big hit like she did in the bottom of the first inning.
“It was really good. It was our first big game, and it just felt really good to give the team a big lead in the first inning,” Visconti said.
The first seven batters for the Crusaders would reach base safely before Brearley recorded the first out of the bottom of the first inning.
The Crusaders added a couple of runs at the plate in the bottom of the second inning.
Sophomore Gianna Randazza launched a 3-0 pitch high and deep to right-center field for a solo home run to make it 8-0 Crusaders. They would add another run and lead 9-0 after two innings.
On the mound, Randazza pitched a complete game, recording five strikeouts and issuing no walks on the afternoon. She also allowed four hits in the victory.
The Crusaders sealed the victory in the bottom of the third when their bats again lit up. After junior Gabby Zatko walked, Randazza would record a double, sending Zatko home from first base to make it 10-0.
Senior Stephanie Donah recorded a double of her own, scoring Randazza to extend the lead to 11-0.
“We just need to hit the ball a little better, and not get into a momentum of winning. We need to stay focused on playing good defense and coming up clutch at the plate,” Donah said, thinking ahead to Saturday's match-up against Cranford.
Sophomore Shannon Brogan would record an RBI double, and Visconti would record an RBI on a groundout to make it 13-0.
Freshmen Mackenzie Purcell hit the ball into the outfield for a single, scoring Brogan from second base to extend the lead to 14-0. Senior Lauren Margel recorded an RBI double, scoring Purcell from second base to put Johnson up 15-0.
Johnson head coach Mike Mancino shared his thoughts on what was important for the team as they get ready for the Union County Tournament Semifinals.
“We’ve had three straight weekends of tough tournaments to try and get ready for tomorrow, for playing against a good team like Cranford,” Mancino said. “They’re much improved, they played us very tough last week. We prepared for this in previous weeks, and we’re going to treat this the same way. We’re going to come out focused, we’re going to be loose, do the little things, and hopefully, that’s enough to win the game.”
The game was called after the top of the fourth inning due to a mercy rule, with Johnson up 15-0 after three full innings were played.
Next up, the Johnson Crusaders (14-2) face off against the No. 5 ranked Cranford Cougars (6-4-1) in the Union County Tournament Semifinals Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. in Linden, New Jersey.
The Brearley Bears (8-5) play their next game at home Tuesday afternoon against the Rahway Indians.