CRANFORD - Sophomore Morrigan Gardiner tossed a five-inning no-hitter and allowed just one runner via error while striking out 12 to lead seventh-seeded Cranford past 10th-seeded Payne Tech, 10-0, in the first round of the North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 tournament, on Thursday.
Gardiner got off to a red hot start striking out the side on 11 pitches in the first inning. Though the leadoff hitter in the second reached on a dribbler back to the mound that Gardiner bobbled, she went on to strike out the next four batters. Struggling to just make contact, Payne Tech's ninth place hitter put its first ball into play on a 1-3 bunt put out.
"She was just on fire today," said Cranford head coach Christine Pemoulie.
Pemoulie also noted that if Gardiner continues to pitch like she did on Thursday, Cranford will have no problem with any team it faces throughout the tournament.
"If she continues this way, I don't see us running into any issues," Pemoulie said. "We hit pretty well today up and down the lineup too."
Leadoff hitter Elizabeth McCaffery set the table for the Cougars reaching base all four at bats and had a two-run single in the second inning. Bridget Dineen, Samantha Brunton, and Morgan Heim also each drove in two runs.
Cranford advances to take on second-seeded Belleville in the quarterfinal round on Monday. Before that, the Cougars will be holding their Senior Night game on Friday against Johnson at 5 p.m.
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