A series of miscues and mental mistakes, including four errors, played a big part in the Hillsborough High School softball team’s struggles in the NJSIAA Group IV semifinals against Washington Township on Tuesday.
Those crucial mishaps ultimately played a part in the Raiders’ downfall in a 6-2 loss to the Minutemaids.
“We made a lot of mistakes today, I don’t know why,” Hillsborough coach Cheryl Iaione said. “We were very loose, it had nothing to do with that. We weren’t nervous, we believed we could win.”
With the scored tied 2-2 in the top of the fifth inning, Washington Twp. (29-2) took the lead as Kristen Turner hit an RBI double off the right field wall to score Kelliane Gaffney, who led off the inning with a bunt single.
An error on what would have been the third out of the inning allowed the Minutemaids to score another run for a 4-2 lead.
Washington Township tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning as Taylor Coroneos’ bases-loaded two-run single with two outs made the score 6-2.
Coroneos would have never gotten up in the inning though if it wasn’t for an error on a foul pop up that extended Dominique Palagruto’s at-bat with one out, as she eventually drew a walk.
“I don’t believe the better team won, I still believe we’re the better team, but give (Washington Twp.) credit, they got some timely hits and their pitcher (Coroneos) really bared down on us after we had started to hit her around early,” Iaione said. “I said all along to my kids that the only team I felt could beat us was us.”
Coroneos, committed to Boston College and one of three Division-I recruits for Washington Township, scattered seven hits and allowed two earned runs for the win, as Hillsborough (24-3) had a runner on base in every inning except the seventh.
The Raiders took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning when they scored their only two runs as Rachel Handel led off the inning with a single and Jess Santelli (2-for-2) followed with a bunt single.
They each advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt and were driven in on Jacki Schwenkert’s sacrfice fly and Alexis Pezza’s RBI single to right.
Washington Township quickly tied the game, 2-2, in the top of the third inning as a passed ball with two outs and the bases-loaded single allowed Kylie Mulholland, who singled with one out, to score from third base.
Kelly Wishard started in the circle for Hillsborough and allowed four runs, two of which were earned, on eight hits over five innings while Alexis Schengrund gave up two unearned runs in two innings of relief.
“As we fell behind we got a little tight,” Iaione said. “We tried to press at the plate, tried to do a little too much. When you do that, bad things happen.”
The loss wrapped up a landmark season for Hillsborough, in which it set a school record with 24 wins and won its first-ever sectional title.
“It’s tough, but we’ve never been to this game,” Iaione said. “It’s a special place to be and hopefully these kids set the tone for future championships and games like this.”
“If I had to sign up for 24-3 and a sectional championship, I’ll sign up again next year. Let me know if that deal’s on the table.”