SOUTH PLAINFIELD- When two high level teams face off in a high stakes game, it doesn’t matter how clean or dominant your team’s play is, what matters is that you walk away with the win. Earlier today at Sayreville High School, the South Plainfield High School softball team showed that.
The GMC White division title was up for grabs this afternoon as the Lady Tigers (17-1) faced off against one of their fiercest rivals, Sayreville. The Bombers’ (13-3) leadoff hitters found success early, and used that to take a 5-1 lead at the end of the third inning. The Lady Tigers persevered through the early setback though, and eventually took advantage of Sayreville’s miscues to complete a comeback that earned them a 7-5 away victory and the White Division title.
South Plainfield head coach Don Panzarella admitted that today’s win wasn’t their best performance, but also said he was extremely impressed by the grit and mental fortitude his players showed in recovering from an early four run deficit.
“They don’t quit,” Panzarella said. “They found a way to win, and that’s the most important. I don’t think it was the best game played between the two teams. These are two good teams, and I don’t think either one played their best, but we found a way to win.”
The first inning started off well enough for the Lady Tigers though, in fact offensively it was almost identical to the first inning played in their previous game against the Bombers, which South Plainfield won 2-1. Just like in the last game, in her very first at-bat, South Plainfield standout Caity Hughes smacked a home run off a pitch from Kelly Duffy.
Sayreville’s first at-bats were wildly different from their last performance against South Plainfield though.
This time around the Bombers got two doubles and three singles in their first six at-bats, which gave them an early 3-1 lead. In the bottom half of the inning, Same Ermo batted in two runners to give Sayreville a commanding 5-1 lead.
Even though they were facing by far their biggest deficit of the season against a formidable opponent, the Lady Tigers didn’t pack it in.
A single from Jennifer Grasso in the top of the fourth inning sent Cameron Marks home for South Plainfield’s first score since their first at-bat. An RBI single from Jillian Holoboski and a walk with the bases loaded gave the Lady Tigers two more runs, and then a passed ball allowed Grasso to steal home and tie the game up. A hit by pitch on Julie Davis sent Holoboski home for the go-ahead run.
A double from Holoboski in the fifth inning sent Hughes home to tack on another run. An outfield catch by Catherine DeLair in the bottom of the seventh sealed the win for South Plainfield.
Katherine Vill struck out five for South Plainfield, while giving up ten hits and walking none.
Once again, it took a team wide effort for South Plainfield to pull out the win. Panzarella said his team showed they can still be a force even when their stars aren’t at their best.
“That’s been the motto all year,” Panzarella said. “It’s gotta be someone else. It can’t be the same four or five girls every time, someone else has to step up. And they did that a little bit today.”
The head coach said he hopes his team can build on this performance in the games to come. He also added that he’s impressed by what his team was able to do in their division.
“I think this division is deep from the top to the bottom,” the coach said. “We had one loss to Bishop Ahr, beat everyone else, and had some close games. I think it says a lot to win all those games, especially against the competition we’ve been playing. It’s impressive.”