ELIZABETH, NJ - On Saturday, the Governor Livingston softball team fell short of a berth in the Union County Tournament championship as the Highlanders suffered a tough 6-4 defeat to Westfield at Kean University.
Governor Livingston fell to 11-5 on the season.
The Highlanders were led at the plate by Evan Palitta whose home run scored two runs. Julia McConekey and Aislinn O’Keefe chipped in with two hits apiece. Alyssa Lombardi, Julian Lopes, Janey Morabito, and Jessica Schmidt also had hits for Governor Livingston.
Senior Jamie Belfer went the distance on the mound and registered four strikeouts in the process.
After capturing a 2-1 lead after one inning, the Highlanders mustered up just one run over the next five innings which proved to be the difference.
The Blue Devils scored runs in the third, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. The Blue Devils’ two runs in the seventh proved to be a backbreaker for the Highlanders. Governor Livingston’s seventh-inning comeback bid was not successful as the Highlanders registered just one run during the inning.
“I’m obviously gutted that we weren’t able to make it to the Final,” Governor Livingston head coach Mike Roof said. “I thought we hit enough to win, but defensively we could have been a bit better and I thought our execution with runners in scoring position and base-running hurt us as we could have possibly put up more runs than we left out there.”
“You have to give credit to Westfield because they executed better than we did in certain aspects and that is why they won the game.”
Despite the loss, Roof made sure to credit his players for their efforts including Belfer. Even though the Blue Devils were highly efficient at the plate, Belfer kept battling to keep Governor Livingston in the game.
“I thought Jamie battled out there on the mound as she was forced into prolonged innings when we should have been in the dugout and it’s tough to execute your pitches when they are making contact as often as they were,” Roof said. “I thought younger and older girls like McConekey, Palitta, and O’Keefe had great at-bats at the plate and put us in situations to score more runs.”
The Highlanders had much success against Westfield’s starting pitcher, Bridget Hykand, as Hykand gave up five hits in just one inning to the Highlander batters.
Roof said the game changed when Westfield’s Michaela Hobson took the mound. Hobson exhibited much more control on the mound.
“I think the key moment was clearly her going to her second pitcher because we were knocking around their initial starter,” Roof said. “Their second pitcher clearly made it more difficult for some of our younger players to make contact or put the ball in play, which reduced our threat mostly.”
“Sometimes it’s not what you don’t do but rather what the opposing team did to win a game and I think that was the case on Saturday.”
The Highlanders showed enough fight to the point where Roof believes his team will be fine come state tournament time.
“This team believes that it can come back from a deficit, which it may face with its remaining regular season games and the state tournament to come,” Roof said. “ We were able to rally somewhat in that last half-inning, which showed the girls weren’t ready to roll over and go 1-2-3 to end the game.”