MONTVILLE – The Montville softball team had its game against Morris Knolls circled on the calendar this season and the two teams renewed their rivalry on Wednesday.
Trailing 8-7 headed to the bottom of the fourth, Montville senior third baseman Jade Tungul hit a two-run home run for a 9-8 lead and the Mustangs made it stand up against the Golden Eagles.
“It’s amazing, they’ve always been such a rival for us over the last couple of years,” Tungul said. “Our games with them are always close and we’re a very closely level team so winning against them is always a really great feeling.”
Morris Knolls (7-3) scored one run in the top of the first and in the top of the third scored two more. With two outs and two runners on, sophomore first baseman Allie Schey hit a two-run double to left but was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple to put the Golden Eagles ahead 3-0.
In the bottom of the third Montville’s bats came alive. With one out the Mustangs (5-3) loaded the bases on a single, two walks and a hit batter. Freshman catcher Kelly Dodgson walked which scored a run for a 3-1 game. Tungul then followed with a two-run double to center to tie the game 3-3, and freshman second baseman Izzy Breeman hit a two-run single then advanced to second on the throw to put Montville ahead 5-3.
Freshman pitcher Jordan Strickland continued the barrage with an infield single and reached second on a wild pitch. Senior left fielder Christina Kaminskij reached on an error, which scored Bressman for a 6-3 lead. With two outs sophomore Kristie Monaco replaced Strickland at second and senior first baseman/pitcher Sammie Booth reached on another error, which scored Monaco to put the Mustangs ahead 7-3.
“Stay positive, you can do this,” Bressman said about Montville’s attitude heading into the bottom of the third. “When it comes to that, we have to think we’re the better team. It was just hit after hit, they were contagious, like coach (John Immediato) says.”
The hits and runs kept coming in the top of the fourth as Morris Knolls exploded for five runs. Senior center fielder Marissa Maioran led off with a single to right and freshman designated player Jessica Heitmann walked. Booth replaced Strickland on the mound for Montville and sophomore left fielder Breanna O’Shea reached on a fielder’s choice and Maioran was out at third.
With two outs, senior right fielder Marina Castalluzzo reached on an error, which scored Heitmann and pulled Morris Knolls to within 7-4. Sophomore second baseman CJ Shaw singled to center field, scoring O’Shea for a 7-5 game, and senior third baseman Kasey Felix followed with a three-run home run to center, which gave the Golden Eagles an 8-7 advantage.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth Dodgson reached on an infield single, which set up Tungul’s two-run home run to take the lead.
“I feel like we all came together, equally in the field and off the field,” Bressman said. “Hitting wise, everybody played the part they needed to play and that made us win.”
Morris Knolls loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Booth got a ground out to short to end the game and preserve the victory.
For the Mustangs, Strickland was charged with four runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out two in three innings. Booth allowed four runs on six hits, walked none and struck out one in four innings of relief. Sophomore Brooke Wiarda started for Morris Knolls and allowed nine runs on nine hits, walked two and struck out four in 3 1/3 innings. Castalluzzo came on with one out in the fourth and allowed no runs on three hits, walked two and struck out one.
Staff Writer Lauren Knego: 973-428-6674; email@example.com