HAZLET, NJ-  The Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders varsity softball team went out on the road for the second round of the state tournament in a rematch with the Raritan High School Rockets. In a game that was close to the end, the No. 5 seeded Crusaders held off the No. 4 seeded Rockets by a final score of 4-3 in the NJSIAA Central, Group 2 Quarterfinals Tuesday afternoon.

"Raritan is a very good softball team so I was pleased with the resiliency our girls showed today even when things started to unravel a bit in the 6th," Johnson head coach Chris Di Nucci said. "Our girls stuck together and found a way to win despite a few things that didn't go our way."

Raritan took the lead with a solo home run from freshman Morgan O’Donnell, 1-0, in the bottom of the first inning, but Johnson would respond later in the game.

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Junior Mackenzie Purcell drove in two runs with a double in the top of the fourth inning, to give her team a 2-1 lead.

In the top of the fifth inning, Johnson added to their lead. Junior Lauren Donah singled, driving home senior Shannon Brogan who scored to make the lead 3-1. Senior Gianna Randazza hit a solo home run to give her team a 4-1 lead.

Raritan would draw closer with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to make the score 4-3, but Johnson would get the final outs and secure the win.

The Johnson Crusaders (19-9) advance to the NJSIAA Central, Group 2 Semifinals on Thursday afternoon, and will face off on the road at No. 1 seeded Bordentown HS at 4:00 p.m.

This is the Crusaders’ fourth trip to the NJSIAA Central, Group 2 Semifinals in the past five seasons.

The Raritan Rockets (16-7) will travel to play at St. John Vianney HS in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament on Saturday.

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