TOMS RIVER – Naomi Stas was practically flawless on the mound and the Pinelands softball team backed her no-hit effort with a multitude of runs as the Wildcats defeated Southern, 10-0, in five innings in the Ocean County Tournament Final on Saturday night at Toms River South High School.
Here are five takeaways from Saturday night’s Ocean County Tournament Final
1 . Stas was very close to a perfect game
Stas was perfect through four innings and received a solid defensive effort from her teammates before walking a batter in the fifth inning. Nevertheless, she ended with a no-hitter with seven strikeouts
2. The person that broke up the perfect game?
That was Southern’s Jessica Heminghaus. With one out in the top of the fifth, Heminghaus displayed great patience at the plate to draw the only walk given up by Stas.
3. Fantastic freshman in clutch situations
Pinelands freshman Jesse Rising was 2-for-3 with three RBI. She had a 2-run single in the first inning that gave Pinelands a 3-0 lead and an RBI-double in the third inning that push Pinelands lead to 4-0. Her effort didn’t go unnoticed by Pinelands coach Keith Lowe.
“I did have her (Jesse) Rising up higher in the order earlier in the year at three or four and she struggled a little bit but when she’s been in the No. 6 or No. 7 spot, she’s been hitting better,” Lowe said. “She came through with a big two-out single and that double in the gap was huge.”
4. Make that two in a row for the Wildcats
Pinelands won its second straight OCT title and also the second OCT title in school history, according to coach Lowe. What’s been the secret to this recent success? “Having six seniors on varsity and four of those six seniors have been playing since they were freshmen,” Lowe said. Those six seniors are Naomi Stas, Stephanie Healy, Kurstin Binshedler, Shannyn Herron, Emily Dancisin and Ashley Cusicanqui. So, bottom line, experience matters in championship games and Pinelands showed that on Saturday night.
5. The greatest Pinelands softball players of all-time?
Coach Lowe knows who he’s voting for in that poll.
“Naomi Stas and Stephanie Healy are probably the two best (softball) players in the history of Pinelands,” Lowe said. “And we have the two of them on the same team and we are very fortunate to have them.”
At the plate, Stas was 2-for-3 with a double and one RBI, while Healy went 0-for-1 but reached base twice on a fielder’s choice in the first inning and via walk in the third inning.
Sherlon Christie: email@example.com