EAST HANOVER, NJ - After an unlikely trip to the State Section Semifinals the Cinderella story for the Verona Softball Team has ended after a 4-2 defeat at the hands of second seeded Hanover Park.
“[Hanover Park] is dangerous on the bases that’s what they’re known for so once they get on they’re dangerous on their own and then they came up and had some nice hits which is a credit to them,” said Verona Head Coach Angela Salisbury.
The game’s decisive inning would be the bottom of the sixth, which would fall in Hanover Park’s favor. A coverage laps after an infield single would allow for runners at second and third with nobody out. Three consecutive RBI singles would ensue for the Hornets giving them a 4-1 lead before Verona battled out of the frame.
Verona clawed their way back in their final at bats of the game to make things interesting. Melanie Naeris drove in Olivia Garcia for her second run batted in of the game. Naeris, a freshman has come alive this postseason with two RBIs and two runs scored in the teams’ last three games.
“[Naeris] towards the end of the season has come up huge…she’s a great softball player, a really nice kid, and does whatever she needs to, no complaints, no questions just does it,” said Salisbury.
Next up for Verona was senior leader Amber Reed, who represented the game-tying run. Reed, who was playing her first game back since an ACL tear in the winter was on base three times in four at-bats including a single.
“It’s a great story in terms of how far she’s tried to come back and it’s all a credit to her,” said Salisbury.
Reed, who has game-tying power was fearfully walked by the Hornet Head Coach to avoid a catastrophic disaster. Ultimately the Hornet’s pitcher Jessica Miller for the game ending out induced a ground ball for the victory.
For Verona, who ended their season at 11-14 the loss in the Section Semifinals concluded an impressive run in the North 2 Group 2 State Playoffs. Two consecutive victories including a victory over the three seeded Caldwell squad and perhaps one hit away from ousting the two-seeded Hornets was outstanding for a squad with just three seniors.
“I knew we could compete with anybody, all season long it’s been our hitting that’s held us back a little bit, but it started to click the last few weeks, but I knew in States with that momentum we could compete with anyone,” said Salisbury.
Verona looks ahead with a bright future that’s seen a number of underclassmen see significant innings.
“I think those freshman having that confidence coming back knowing they’ve done it [at the varsity level] is huge,” said Salisbury.
All photos by Nick Teodoro
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