LIVINGSTON, NJ — Utilizing a scrappy “no-loss” mentality, the Livingston softball team produced an impressive extra-inning effort for a 7-4 victory over Nutley on Saturday.
“Nutley and our program are always so evenly matched,” said Livingston head coach Jason Daily. “It always comes down to one inning or one run so we enjoy playing them.”
The Lancers and Raiders were knotted at three heading into the top of the eighth inning when a voice inside the Livingston dugout asserted “we’re not losing this game.”
“My coach was telling me just to be confident and know that you can get a hit,” said Livingston’s Hailey Reuter.
The Livingston squad responded as Reuter started a rally by getting hit by the pitch. After a sacrifice, Nathalia Dilanni ripped a single to center field to score Reuter for the go-ahead run.
“I’m very proud of the way [Reuter] played—she played like a veteran,” said Daily. “The trick is to make sure you get the ball in play and she led off with a hit-by-pitch and did some smart base running for us.”
The RBI single opened up the floodgates for Livingston, which pushed the aggression on the base paths to secure additional insurance runs.
Two batters later, a missed fielders choice at home scored Brianna Merucci. After getting two outs and drawing two runs, the Lancers received another break courtesy of the Raiders defense. A dropped throw from the first baseman scored Dilanni and Deja Robinson for a seemingly insurmountable lead.
“To me it comes down to making sure they execute,” said Daily. “We work on it in practice all the time taking extra bases and Nutley unfortunately gave us a few runs.”
The Raiders tried to claw their way back in during their last lights in the bottom of the eighth inning. Nutley eventually brought the tying run to the plate, but ultimately grounded out on the chance to tie the game back up.
The Lancers knew the game would be a see-saw affair against the formerly 2-2 Raider squad. Livingston jumped out to a 1-0 lead with an RBI single from Deja Robinson in the top of the second inning. Robinson is one of five underclassmen starting to make an impact on the unit in 2018.
“We have a lot of youth on this softball team,” said Daily. “There’s going to be gaps, but the goal is to get them experience.”
Nutley counter-punched the Livingston squad, scoring its first runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. An RBI single from Courtney Wilde coupled with a throwing error gave the Raiders their first lead of the game at 2-1.
“We also gave them a few runs,” said Daily.
Livingston foreshadowed its grit in the top of the sixth inning. Back-to-back hits by Emma Cooney and Reuter tied the game at two. After an error and two fielders’ choice outs loaded the bases, the Lancers benefitted from putting the ball in play once again. An error on the shortstop would allow Ashley Reuter to score to give the lead back to Livingston.
“That’s what I’m proud of today is the fact that they did bounce back,” said Daily. “They gave away two runs for them to go up 2-1. I loved the way they tied it up today and gritted it.”
Nutley scratched out another run in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game at three. A wild pitch that scored Brianna Cruz set the stage for the extra-inning dramatics from Livingston.
“I thought we had a rhythm going and that we were going to win,” said Hailey Reuter. “We have to make sure to play good defense [on Monday]—keep everything in front of us in the field and try our best.”
After defeating Verona on Friday, 6-4, and Nutley on Saturday, Livingston improve to 2-2 on the season. The group will look to continue its solid play when the Lancers take on Caldwell on Monday.