The River Dell Golden Hawks Varsity Softball Team(9-6, 5-5 Big North) hosted the Lodi Immaculate Blue Wolves(9-3, 5-1 NJIC-Meadowlands) in the first round of the Bergen County Tournament on an overcast and chilly day with at River Dell High School in Oradell, New Jersey.
The Golden Hawks wasted no time jumping out to an early lead against Lodi Immaculate in the first inning. A pair of singles from Helena Marcus and Maddie Roth combined with Gabby DeGroat drawing a walk led to the bases loaded.
With one out, Grace Basil stepped up to the plate and belted a two-run double deep into the left-center gap. “What a clutch hit by Grace and she comes up with a lot of those,” River Dell Head Coach Brian Calabrese described. “She’s a very good hitter and always confident in herself.”
Meanwhile, starting pitcher Gabby DeGroat dominated from the opening pitch, retiring the first nine hitters in a row. DeGroat encountered a jam in the fourth inning after yielding a pair of singles. However, DeGroat wiggled out of the tight spot by getting a Blue Wolves hitter to ground out to shortstop Kasey Ziegler.
Moving to the bottom half of the frame, Erin Brady drew a one-out walk. Shannon Lynch came in to pinch run for Brady and advanced to second base on a wild pitch.
Next up in the batter’s box was Olivia Hanna, and Hanna cranked a single to shallow centerfield as Lynch motored around the bases and easily crossed home plate to extend the River Dell advantage to 3-0.
“That was important to continue with the runs and pushing forward through the game and keep solidifying the lead,” Olivia Hanna explained. “The more people we have on base is beneficial.” It’s just not having the triples and home runs, but those base hits, and we get the people on bases home eventually.”
In the fifth inning, Gabby Degroat set down the first two hitters she faced but then gave up a pair of singles. Once again DeGroat maneuvered out of a difficult position as she retired a Lodi Immaculate hitter on a fly out to center field.
“We were well prepared for this game and knew the tendencies of the hitters,” Head Coach Brian Calabrese noted. “We had a game plan and Gabby pitched to perfection and her best game pitching.” “She hit every spot, knew where she had to throw and just dialed in.”
After DeGroat threw a spotless top sixth, the Golden Hawks broke the game wide open in the bottom half of the inning. Erin Brady led off with a single, followed by Samantha Campos drawing a free pass.
Brady and Campos advanced to second and third bases on a wild pitch. That set the stage for Olivia Hanna as Hanna clubbed a two-run double into the left centerfield gap that widened the River Dell margin to 5-0.
“I knew it was important for me to get on base and tried to bunt but the first two times didn’t work out,” Olivia Hanna stated. “I knew that I had two strikes, had to protect the plate and do something with the next pitch.” “I knew it was close enough and decided I had to swing, and it worked out.”
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