Following a 30-minute thunder/lightning delay prior to the start of the game, the Spotswood and Raritan softball teams finally took the field and were locked in a scoreless battle heading to the fifth inning in the NJSIAA Central Group II quarterfinals as they fought through the wet conditions.
That’s when Raritan scored two runs to break the deadlock before adding three in the sixth and tacking off two in the seventh as the seventh-seeded Rockets took down second-seeded Spotswood 7-1 on Thursday, as Raritan will face another Greater Middlesex Conference opponent in sixth-seeded Carteret in the semifinals Tuesday.
A light rain was coming down during the first few innings, picking up the heaviest during the third inning before coming to a stop before the fifth, when Raritan (20-8) struck with the bottom of its order.
No. 9 hitter Nicole Coppolino ripped an RBI double with one out and two batters later Danielle Marino hit a two-out RBI single, but was thrown out on a 7-1-4 putout to end the inning after rounding second base too far following the throw home.
“Our thing has been that if we don’t get them the first time, we usually do better the second time,” Raritan coach Aado Kommendant said. “If we don’t get them the second time, we’ll do better the third time and that’s usually how it’s worked for us through the year.”
Spotswood had its chances early in the game as they left the bases loaded in the second and third innings, including with no outs in the third, while leaving two runners on in the fourth, but Raritan pitcher Emily Schaffer worked out of the jam each time.
The Chargers went down in order in the fifth and sixth before scoring their only run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning when Jill Reed hit an RBI infield single with runners on the corners.
Kayla VanWageninge led off the seventh with a double for Spotswood while Sam Mohr went 2-for-3.
Despite the loss, the Spotswood players still circled the bases after the game and embraced each other as they finished the campaign 19-4 and won what’s believed to be its first division title in program history as first-year coach Danielle Matlack played a big part in turning the Chargers into a winner this season.
“It was absolutely amazing, one of the best seasons of my life,” said senior pitcher Micaela McSpadden. “Coach Matlack, she’s absolutely phenomenal. She’s going to do great thing for years to come (here). I wish I had her as a freshman, but she’s a great coach and this is going to be a phenomenal program in a few years.”
Matlack, who coached South Brunswick for a decade before taking a year off from coaching last year, thoroughly enjoyed the season she had with her team.
“I’ve had an amazing year coming back after being off a year,” Matlack said. “I can’t remember one day of practice where we didn’t laugh at each other. The kids are here before practice, the kids are here after practice. This has been an amazing year, it’s an amazing group of kids. We had fun, so much fun – it also helps to win, but they worked hard and did everything I expect from teams. They worked hard, they had fun, we won – can’t ask for much more.”