PARSIPPANY – The seventh-seeded Parsippany softball team hit four home runs en route to an 11-7 victory over 10th-seeded Mendham in the first round of the Morris County Tournament on Tuesday.
The Red Hawks (10-4) advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in about 10 years, according to coach Greg Cleary, and will face No. 2 Jefferson on Saturday.
“We were expecting a tough, close game,” Parsippany senior third baseman Kaila Migliazza said. “We were going in playing tough because we just came back from a win against Madison and we wanted to go in with the same mentality we did against them.”
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the third when Parsippany scored five runs. With runners on first and second freshman shortstop Luisa Barone ripped a two-run triple to center field and senior center fielder Veronica Shaw followed with a single that scored Barone for a 3-0 lead. With one out Migliazza hit the first homer of the afternoon, a two-run shot to left field, and the Red Hawks led 5-0.
“I always say it’s a game of adjustments, if you know a little bit about a team in advance then you can make those adjustments right away, but even here it took us probably the second time around the order to make those adjustments,” Cleary said. “Once they did that and did what we were talking about, it all worked out and they got some quality swings on the ball and we hit it hard.”
In the top of the fourth junior third baseman Karyn Davy hit a solo home run to center field to cut Parsippany’s lead to 5-1. Mendham scored again in the top of the fifth when senior center fielder Michelle Stanton led off with a single and came around to score on a single to left by Davy to get within 5-2.
Parsippany again exploded for another five runs in the bottom of the fifth. Sophomore right fielder Megan Leitner hit a three-run home run to left and Migliazza followed with her second of the day, a solo shot to center, to put the Red Hawks ahead 9-2. With two outs, freshman left fielder Claudia Bennett went deep to left for a 10-2 advantage.
Shaw reached on an error in the bottom of the sixth and came around to score on a double to center by Leitner for Parsippany’s final run and an 11-2 lead.
In the top of the seventh the Red Hawks had a little trouble closing out the game. Mendham junior right fielder Erin Lanahan led off with a single and with one out Davy and freshman first baseman Nikki Surella hit back-to-back singles to load the bases. Lanahan scored on a single to right by freshman pitcher Julia Buckley, and Davy was walked in to pull the Minutemen to within 11-4.
“I feel like we were a little too comfortable because we just had scored so many runs,” Migliazza said. “But once we realized they were coming back, we picked up our game.”
Sophomore designated hitter Kaylee Allatta then laced a two-run double to right as the Minutemen closed to within 11-7, but Allatta was caught off the bag for the second out of the inning. Stanton then reached on an error but Parsippany pitcher Caitlin Brennan forced a ground out to end the game.
“Caitlin’s a gamer and there was never a doubt in my mind that she was going to close that game out,” Cleary said. “She’s a sophomore, you’re allowed to have hiccups, the team’s allowed to have hiccups, sometimes it doesn’t always work out but good teams close out games and a win’s a win.”
Brennan allowed seven runs on 13 hits, walked three and struck out eight for the Red Hawks. Buckley allowed 11 runs on nine hits, walked one and struck out eight for Mendham.
Parsippany will face the Falcons (9-5) for the first time this season in the quarterfinals. Jefferson pulled out a 14-13 victory over No. 15 Morris Hills on Tuesday to advance.
“We just need to stay confident, not go in nervous and ready to support each other,” Migliazza said. “As long as we stay confident and back each other up I think we’ll succeed.”
Staff Writer Lauren Knego: 973-428-6674; firstname.lastname@example.org