LIVINGSTON, NJ - The Lady Lancers look simply unbeatable after pulling off a thrilling 1-0 victory over the Roxbury Gaels to win the NJSIAA North 1, Group 4 state sectional finals. Junior Jess Peslak led the charge recording 14 strikeouts and escaping a crucial jam in the sixth.
Throughout the game Roxbury had several opportunities to bring a runner home. In the fifth inning with two outs and runners on second and third, Peslak lost control of her pitch which got away from catcher Marina Lombardi; as Gael’s Erica Figurelli raced from third Lombard lobbed the ball to a sprinting Peslak who was somehow able to make the tag for the last out of the inning.
The Lancers then brought that momentum with them to the plate when with two outs and pinch runner Cate Leu on first lead-off hitter Kylie McLaughlin smacked an RBI double into the outfield to give the Lancers their one and only run.
Roxbury fought back once again and gave the Lancers a late scare when the Gaels recorded hits from Katelyn Milling and Holly Arentowicz to put runners on the corners after a ground out from Emily Helner. Lancer head coach Jason Daily then went to the mound to calm Peslak down, and the Junior phenomenon went on to induce a double play to end the inning.
Although it may not have been her most productive game, Peslak still recorded another shutout, which puts her at over 20 for the year. One die-hard Lancer fan who praised Peslak for her performance was none other then her own mother, “I’m so proud of her, I really am so proud of her. Just all of the pressure that was on her shoulders-and the whole team’s shoulders in fact, they did wonderful, they all did truly wonderful.”
The Lancers really are wonderful improving to 28-0 for the season and are still ranked second in the state behind only private school Immaculate Heart. After winning the State Sectionals the Lancers now move on to Regionals, and at the level they are playing right now, they simply look unbeatable, which technically right now they are.
"On the run that we are we’re playing confident and Roxbury came to play and pushed us but our team played tough my pitcher [Peslak] played tough and you know what? I’m confident [we can win the tournament]," Daily said.
The Gaels truly did make the Lancers work for this win keeping the game close from the start. Both pitchers, Peslak and Helmer struck out the side to start the first inning, and neither team really could manage anything offensively.
Through the first inning the Lancers could only manage two hits, while the Gales could only muster up a walk and a hit by pitch. It has been the second straight game where Livingston’s bats fell silent. However, the team believes the main reason for this is not for their lack of offense but rather the level of pitching they have been facing as of late.
“The past two pitchers from Wayne Valley and Roxbury were throwing absolute gas, the young lady from Roxbury [Helmer] today threw the ball hard and I give her credit because she came to pitch and she was more fundamentally sound then the last time and she pitched a great game” said Daily after the game.