RANDOLPH, NJ- In a battle of familiar foes, the Randolph Rage softball 12U Blue and White squads faced off in the Sparta League playoffs at Freedom Park in Randolph. Before and after the game, friends and classmates from opposite teams mingled together, but from the first pitch until the last, they were all business as the White squad took home a 5-1 victory to advance in the playoffs.
Both teams saw great defensive plays in the game to keep the score close. The White squad had a run saving double play when SS Gianna Drake fielded a hard hit grounder, threw to Alyssa Wagner at 1st, who then threw to catcher Alexandra Mezzo at home to tag out a sliding runner. The Blue squad saw Julia Malino make a great catch in right field, preventing two runs from scoring.
"My girls played great this season, and playing a difficult "A" schedule was great experience for them,” said White coach Bryan Wagner. “Moving to 14U is going to be a huge step up for them but I am confident that they are up to the challenge. Matt Bibbo has a fantastic team and I am confident they will continue the winning ways of RAGE softball in the future."
Both teams had strong performances by their pitchers who were recruited from outside of Randolph. Game balls were given out at the end of the game, received by Melanie Koo from Blue ( 9 strikeouts from the circle ) and Alyssa Wagner for White ( 3-for-3 from the plate)
The White team went on to win its next game over Butler 16-1 and will now play Mount Olive on Tuesday, June 6 for the Championship. The White team has remained mostly intact, with many of the girls having played together for the past four years, during which time they have won the league championship and tournament titles numerous times.
"I have loved my time as a Head Coach with the Rage organization,” said Wagner, who will give up the coaching reigns at seasons end after 4 years at the helm. “Watching my daughter and her friends grow as players and teammates’ has been great to see. We have had a lot of success over the years and I wish them all the best in the future."
As a first year 12u team the Blue squad was on the younger side of the 12u league but managed to finish the season winning the 12u bracket of the Atalese tournament and finishing up the Sparta league with a 3-6 record while surrendering the 3rd fewest runs out of all 15 teams. The pitching of Melanie Koo (over 65 strikeouts) and Gracie Schrader set the tone for a very good season.
Sydney Bibbo had a 650 on base % out of the leadoff spot leading the team in steals and runs scored, sure handed Emily Hirschfeld started at SS all season and made huge play after huge play, Rebecca Hai batted .500 and led the team in home runs, and starting catcher Anna Cacciacarne led the team in hits and batted .550.
"We were younger than most but came together as the season progressed and played some outstanding ball,” said Bibbo. “The girls love being together, are all great friends and have started to trust each other on the field; I could not be more proud of their ability to fight until the end."
“The game vs. White was close until they scored a few late insurance runs and threw Sydney Bibbo out at the plate attempting to tie the game 2-2,” said Bibbo. “Melanie Koo had 9 strikeouts and really kept us in the game but we could not get a consistent threat going against their pitcher Bruno, who was outstanding. They were the better team that day and earned the win.”