ISELIN-One of the things about softball is that it only takes one rough inning to undermine six good innings of work. Earlier today at Iselin Kennedy High School, the South Plainfield High School softball team played six good innings of fielding and pitching during a Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament quarterfinal game against Old Bridge.

The fifth-seeded Lady Tigers’ normally standout defense faltered in the bottom of the seventh, and that allowed the fourth-seeded Knights (13-9) to score a tying run and a walkoff run to win 2-1 and push South Plainfield (17-7) out of the county tournament.

For South Plainfield head coach Don Panzarella, the disappointing loss was a result of not just a late defensive lapse but also because of his team’s substandard hitting throughout the game.

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“We had a great six innings,” the longtime South Plainfield coach said. “We pitched well, defense was good. We fell apart a little bit in the last minute. Like I told them, you can’t get one run all the time and expect to win. We have to hit. We’re not hitting as a team, and that’s what I’m disappointed at.”

Strong efforts in the circle and the field allowed the Lady Tigers to take a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the final inning. The Knights had just one hit in the previous three innings heading into the seventh, but Nicole Cashman changed the momentum by hitting a singling to leadoff the inning. A double by Bri Loughlin in the next at-bat brought Cashman to third, and Chasman scored the tying run on a single, and a shot up the middle between second and third base brought Loughlin home for the game-winning run.

The Lady Tigers took the lead in the fourth inning, when Julie Davis hit a double that brought Jennifer Grasso home.

Jillian Holoboski put up a solid showing in the circle for the Lady Tigers before the seventh inning, as she had four strikeouts with one walk and just two hits conceded headed into the last inning. South Plainfield’s fielders also made some strong plays, including an outstretched grab by Grasso in the outfield in the bottom of the sixth.

“(Hoboloski) pitched good, and the defense was good for the six innings,” said Panzarella. The last inning was a little shaky.”

“I’m frustrated with that, cause we could’ve won (the tournament). I tell them every year that they can win, but the runs are just not coming, and we’re just not hitting the ball. It’s frustrating.”

Holoboski, Danielle DeCarlo, Delaney Born and Catherine DeLair also had hits for South Plainfield. Angelina Casey struck out seven and gave up no walks and six hits for Old Bridge.

The Lady Tigers still have a chance to end their season on a high note with the state tournament. South Plainfield will be taking on A.L Johnson on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Central Jersey, Group 2 Tournament, and Panzarella says that if his players want to advance in that bracket, their offensive game needs to step up.

“We’ve got to stop striking out and put the ball in play,” the coach said. “If we do that maybe we’ll be alright. In the last few weeks we haven’t hit the ball. You’re relying on certain kids, and they’re not doing it and they rest of the team’s not doing, so they get in trouble. You can’t play great defense all the time, and strikeout everybody and always expect to win. It’s got to be a complete effort. It’s about putting it in play more so, and not striking out.”