UNION, NJ - In what has become a storybook ending to the Cedar Grove Softball season only one word can describe a 4-0 Group 1 State Championship win over Metuchen on Sunday …Perfect.
“We worked hard from last year we’ve improved so much it’s like night and day the difference we all just wanted it so bad,” said Mia Faieta.
Sophomore pitcher Mia Faieta, less than two weeks after pitching an unprecedented 21-strikeout perfect game came back for an encore in the Group Championship Game against Metuchen. Faieta’s second postseason perfect game came against the Lady Bulldogs with 13 strikeouts to boot. Not a single ball reached the outfield against Faieta on the afternoon.
“She stays focused, and that’s the main part about it. She deserves this, she works hard and all that hard work she has it in the tank now and I think she really proved that she was the best,” said Nicole Velardi.
Cedar Grove got the offense started in the bottom of the first inning. Back to back doubles by Ava Mandala and Rianna Marinelli put the Lady Panthers on the board for the game’s first and decisive run. Three batters later Marinelli scored on an infield single from Daniella Cordasco for an early insurance run for the then cruising Faieta.
“It took the pressure off everybody else, it kind of got the momentum going for the game and really got everybody up,” said Marinelli of the first inning’s offense.
Cedar Grove tacked on another run in the bottom of the second by the bat of Marinelli once again. The senior shortstop’s fifth run batted in for the tournament killed any thoughts of a Metuchen comeback. For Marinelli, the achievement of winning her second title with the school has still yet to set in.
“It’s a surreal feeling because it’s my second time [winning] in four years. Who would’ve ever thought we would have won it twice in four years. It doesn’t really happen that much in Cedar Grove so it’s a pretty cool feeling,” said Marinelli.
Marinelli was able to put a bow on her swan song senior performance with a single in the bottom of the fifth for a three hit day. She came around to score the fourth run of the game on an Ava Fernandez RBI single. The senior ended on a high note with two RBIs and two runs scored in a title game.
“She really proved herself today, she played like a senior, she emptied the tank and I’m really happy for her,” said Velardi.
Cedar Grove’s win grants them entry into the first ever NJ Tournament Of Champions. As the first Group 1 Champion to enter the tournament the team will look to prove their state dominance over the next few days against the winners from the respective groups throughout the state.
“I think it’s awesome and for the first time everyone experiencing it it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Velardi.