SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The South Plainfield High School Lady Tigers softball team sent off their four seniors in grand fashion Monday night before an impressive crowd at Ponytail Park with a 2-0 win over Kennedy Iselin. Senior pitcher Katherine Vill put forth a dominating effort, striking out 12 Lady Mustangs, and the South Plainfield offense rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to grab the victory.
The win allowed the Lady Tigers (15-1) to keep pace with Sayreville (also 15-1) at the top of the GMC White Division standings.
Vill out-dueled a game Jillian Sims of Kennedy Iselin (6-7), who finished with 11 strikeouts of her own. “I felt powerful, I felt good today. It was senior night so I felt ready for action,” Vill, who allowed only three hits and forced her opponents into six groundouts, said. “I knew we were ready for this and we just had to take it, it was our night.”
After both pitchers traded zeros on the scoreboard for four and a half innings, the South Plainfield bats finally woke up to start the fifth. With one out, senior Caity Hughes smoked a triple off the left centerfield wall. Most hitters would’ve been content to stop at second but the experienced Hughes had her eyes set on third from the moment she left the batter’s box. Right fielder Jen Grasso then laid down a squeeze bunt that was tough for Sims to handle and Hughes slid into home safely for the first run of the evening.
Third baseman Jillian Holoboski and Vill drew back-to-back walks to put two runners on for senior Camryn Schaeffer. Schaeffer, the catcher, would smack an RBI double down the third base line to score Holoboski and give the Lady Tigers an insurance run for their pitcher at 2-0.
“That was what we needed. That’s our style,” Vill said of the offensive outburst. “We have one inning where we get our runs then we just hold them.”
Schaeffer joked that the secret behind her hit was an egg salad pregame meal from her mother. “Its senior night, you just always want to do your best, hit the ball as hard as you can,” Schaeffer said. “It was a close game the whole time. So I just wanted to put the ball in play, make something happen,” she said.
The four seniors (Vill, Schaeffer, Hughes and Angela Sanchez) were recognized with a pregame ceremony involving their family members.
“It feels good,” Schaeffer said. “We’ve been working hard all season. I feel like we earned it. We deserve everything that’s happened to us.”
South Plainfield Head Coach Don Panzarella called Vill’s performance “awesome” and thought the team really needed a dominating performance in the circle while the offense still searches for ways to manufacture more runs. “Our team is all about pitching awesome and getting great defense and hoping we get timely hits and runs, because right now we’re not hitting the ball well as a team,” Panzarella said. “We got Caity Hughes with the triple and Jen Grasso with the squeeze, and that’s how we have to get runs right now. As long as we can get keep the other team at zero, I think we can scratch one out,” he said.
Next up for the Lady Tigers is a matchup at Colonia (7-6) on Wednesday before a crucial tilt at Sayreville on Thursday that will likely have ramifications in the division standings.