CEDAR GROVE, NJ - Cedar Grove exploded for a five-run, two out rally in the fifth inning to breakup a 0-0 tie, and Mia Faieta struck out 16 Lady Aviators as Cedar Grove defeated Hasbrouck Heights for the North 1, Group 1 championship at Panther Park in Cedar Grove.
It is the second straight year that the Panthers have captured the title by beating Hasbrouck Heights in the final, winning last year by an identical 7-0 score.
Cedar Grove loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, but Lady Aviator pitcher Olivia Marinelli worked out of the one-out jam, striking out Katie Peterson for the second out, and retiring Gianna Bocchino on a fly ball to center field to escape the inning scoreless.
Both pitchers settled in, keeping the game scoreless until there was two outs in the fifth inning. Paige Scheid singled to short to start the rally. Marinelli then walked Chloe Weinstein to put runners on first and second. Gianna Kubu reached on an infield single to the right side to load the bases with two outs.
Jules Cicola doubled to center field, and the Panthers had a 2-0 lead. Marinelli hit Peterson with the pitch to load the bases. Bocchino then doubled into centerfield, chasing home all three runners, and the Panthers were suddenly in front, 5-0.
Faieta, on the mound for the Panthers, shut down the Lady Aviators in the sixth. After hitting lead off batter Kimmy Halpin with a pitch, she retired the next three hitters to keep the lead at five. In the bottom half of the inning, Cedar Grove added two insurance runs to make the score 7-0.
Erin Owens singled with one out in the seventh, only the second Lady Aviator hit of the day, but the Faieta picked up her 15th and 16th strikeout of the year to give Cedar Grove the victory.
The Lady Aviators finished the season 25-4 on the season with the loss.
"That’s a really hard one," stated Hasbrouck Heights head coach Jackie Ferranti after the game. "This senior group is one of the most successful classes to come through Hasbrouck Heignts. This team was amazing this season and such a fun group to coach. I’m going to miss these seniors and this team even more. "
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