LANDING, NJ – No. 1 seed Morris Knolls varsity softball team advanced to the Morris County Tournament (MCT) final after defeating No. 12 seed Mendham 9-3 on Thursday, May 9, in Landing.
Mendham quickly took the lead in the first inning, scoring two runs off three hits and two walks. The team then shutdown the first three Morris Knolls batters, throwing out Skye Eppel and Maddison Perna, and striking out Carley Mahan.
Defensively, by the second inning, the Golden Eagles pitcher Kayla Turcios and her teammates managed to shake off the MCT-semifinal jitters and retired the inning three up, three down.
Mendham held its two-run lead through the second inning, keeping Morris Knolls scoreless and allowing just one hit, a single by Jessica Arminio.
In the third inning, the Golden Eagles continued to iron out their kinks. Turcios got her first strikeout of the game, her last walk of the game, and gave up just one hit.
In the bottom of the third, Morris Knolls clearly had decoded the pitcher’s cadence, garnering seven at-bats, three hits and three runs to take the lead. Mary Griffin and Eppel hit doubles, with Eppel getting the team’s first RBI. Perna nailed a triple that brought Eppel home and then scored a run herself on a throwing error. The Golden Eagles ended the inning up by one run.
Mendham could not produce any runs in the fourth inning. Turcios struck out two and gave up one hit.
The bottom of the fourth proved to be explosive for Morris Knolls. Eleven at-bats tells the story. Turcios smashed a leadoff homer and got a single later in the inning. Eppel hit a double. Casey Heitmann, Nicole Florey, Mahan and Arminio earned singles. After four RBIs and a couple of throwing errors, the Golden Eagles had added six runs to their score, ending the fourth inning, 9-2.
Menham got its third and final run from a homer in the sixth inning.
Turcios pitched the entire game getting four strikeouts, seven hits and three walks.
In preparing his team for each subsequent game, Morris Knolls Head Coach Keith Heinmann always tells his players, “The next game is the biggest game of the year.” For the Golden Eagles, the next game certainly will be the biggest game of the MCT when they face No. 6 seed Mount Olive on Saturday, May 11.
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