Wall softball defeats Nottingham for title

Wall softball defeats Nottingham for title


Wall softball defeats Nottingham for title



Even after having surgery to fix a broken nose just three days earlier, Wall freshman Casey DeSarno could smell an improbable victory for the Crimson Knights.

DeSarno delivered a pinch-hit fielder’s choice to score Katrina Hand with the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning, capping a four-run rally as top-seeded Wall stunned No. 7 Nottingham for a 6-5 victory in the NJSIAA Central Group III final Friday at Wall.

The sectional title was the first for Wall (24-4) since 2007, when the Crimson Knights won the overall Group III crown. Wall will face South Group III champion Gloucester Tech, a 4-0 winner Friday over Hammonton, in the Group III semifinals Tuesday at Lenape High School.

Nottingham (19-7) had scored two runs in the top of the seventh to take a 5-2 lead, but Wall, which made five errors, scored four runs in its final at-bat to win it.

“It was just total determination,” Wall coach Tony Vodola said. “We gave them a few runs here and there like we’ve done in the past, but I can honestly say that this team, there’s never any quit.”

“We all stayed up and we all picked each other up, which is most important,” Wall senior Sydney Canessa said. “We just knew that we couldn’t get down because we would have the opportunity to make something happen.”

It was Canessa, Wall’s leadoff hitter, who began the comeback with a single to center. Dani Petrone and Katie Kilgallen followed with singles up the middle to load the bases, and senior Chickie Clayton lashed an RBI single to left to pull Wall to within 5-3.

“Everyone was driving middle, just like we’ve been practicing,” Clayton said. “I wasn’t walking off this field without a state (sectional) title.”

Katie Wingel then reached on a fielder’s choice to third as Petrone beat the throw home to make it 5-4, and Amanda Pringle put down a bunt to score Kilgallen and tie it at 5 as the Northstars took the out at first.

DeSarno, who played third base as the flex player, came up to pinch-hit with runners on second and third and one out. She hit a grounder to second, and Hand, pinch-running for Clayton, slid safely to beat the throw to the plate for the game-winning run that touched off a jubilant celebration by the Crimson Knights.

“I was just so in the moment,” said DeSarno, who suffered a broken nose after getting hit by a line drive May 15 against Howell. “I was just trying to put it down and make (Hand) go home. It’s crazy, it’s so unreal. I felt like I was in a dream.”

“Brad Hanson, my hitting instructor, said to me that Casey was swinging a pretty good bat,” Vodola said. “I was concerned because she’s been injured recently. I went to Casey and I said, ‘How do you feel today,’ and she goes, ‘I’m ready,’ so I’m ready to take a chance.”

Although Wall trailed 5-2 with its season on the line, having Canessa, who went 3-for-3 with a walk, and Petrone (3-for-4, 2 RBI) lead off the seventh was a good place to start the rally.

“Before the game we knew we needed someone to start the spark,” Canessa said. “And luckily I was able to start the spark and everybody followed and it was almost impossible to stop us.”

Wall freshman Jackie Howarth (17-3) threw a complete game to get the win. Nottingham starter Kristin Hallam (15-4) threw 613 innings and struck out five in the loss. Hallam also went 2-for-4, including an RBI triple off the top of the left-field fence in the top of the seventh to make it 4-2. She then scored when Alyssa James reached on an error for a 5-2 lead.

Nottingham (19-7) 0 1 2 0 0 0 2 5 7 0
Wall (24-4) 0 1 0 0 1 0 4 6 11 5

2B: (W) Canessa; 3B: (N) K. Hallam; WP: Howarth (17-3); LP: K. Hallam (15-4).


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