RANDOLPH, NJ- Under clear blue skies and scorching heat from the sun, the Randolph Lady Rams softball team took care of business, securing a conference championship with a dominating 9-1 victory over the Roxbury Gaels on Monday May 21.
The game was a head-to-head battle for the conference title, and with the win Randolph assured themselves of at least a tie for the top spot. Both teams have one game remaining, ironically it is a rematch, meaning a Rams win will give them the outright title, whereas Roxbury can earn the shared title if they win.
Randolph’s performance on the field showed they knew what was at stake, and they certainly came to play.
“Every time we have big games coming up, whether it be in the counties, states, or even critical regular season games, the girls are very composed,” said Kanya. “They are always joking around, they are very loose. Sometimes, this gets me a little nervous, as I wonder how loose they truly are, but truthfully, this is a phenomenal group of kids”.
The Lady Rams’ offense got rolling in the bottom of the second inning. Catcher Alexis Shaunessy ( 2-for-4 with 3 RBI ) sparked the offense by reaching first base on a dropped third strike to commence the frame. She was eventually driven home by third baseman Jen Iantosca ( 3-for-4 with 4 RBI ) to give Randolph an early 1-0 cushion, and they never looked back.
The subsequent inning saw three more Rams cross the plate. After second baseman Mailynn Soto singled to center and stole second, Shaunessy drove Soto and Amanda Flynn in to put Randolph ahead 3-0. Emily Spingarn, on a flare to center, scored Shaunessy, and the Lady Rams took a 4-0 lead through three innings.
The bottom of the fourth inning was the biggest offensive inning for Randolph. First baseman Lindsay Danias led off with a high fly ball that soared beyond the left-field fence for a solo home run.
“It felt really nice to help my team out and do my part in a game of this magnitude”, Danias explained. “I was looking for an inside pitch, and I got one and took advantage of it”.
After Katie Oh popped out to the shortstop, Soto beat out a ground ball to the second baseman. Michelle MacMillan followed with a strong single to center, and Amanda Flynn laced a single to center to load the bases with one out. Shaughnessy then recorded her third and fourth RBI’s of the game on a hard ground ball that made its way past the Gaels’ shortstop and into left field.
Spingarn grounded out on a sharp grounder to first, but she recorded an RBI as Flynn crossed home safely. Iantosca followed with another RBI hit and reached second after the throw home. Courtney Downtain popped out to first to end the long inning; where nine Lady Rams came to bat, and five of them scored. Thus, Randolph had a 9-0 lead through four.
Meanwhile on the mound, Flynn was stellar. The sophomore pitched a complete game, striking out nine hitters over seven innings. The only trouble she experienced came in the first inning, when the Gaels loaded the bases with two outs. However, second baseman Soto fielded a ground ball and stepped on second, and the Rams left the inning unscathed.
Beyond that, one of the few hits Flynn allowed was a solo homer to give Roxbury their only run, the only blemish on an excellent pitching performance from Flynn in a critical game.
The Rams offense totaled fourteen hits on the afternoon. This offensive outburst and phenomenal pitching came as no surprise to Randolph coach Ashley Kanya.
Coach Kanya also alluded to the excellent chemistry and camaraderie that this team has.
“They are friends, they enjoy each other, and they build off of each other; you can’t ask for more than that,” Kanya stated.
As for the significance of this win, Coach Kanya added that “we haven’t won a conference championship since 1997, and this win secured our team for at least co-champions”.
Kanya was very impressed with the fashion that her team earned this win.
“We did it in extraordinary fashion with a 9-1 win,” said Kanya. Amanda Flynn did a phenomenal job pitching, our defense was stellar, and all the girls contributed on offense. They were aggressive at the plate, hit the ball hard, and moved their teammates around the bases, which is all you can ask for.”
The Lady Rams will take the field again this Wednesday in a tournament game against the Livingston Lancers.