Softball Sweeps WPU to Claim NJAC Regular-Season Title

Wayne, NJ (4/22/08) - No. 9 Montclair State (35-3, 16-0 NJAC) needed a five-run, seventh-inning rally to finish a doubleheader sweep at William Paterson (21-15, 7-9 NJAC) April 22, but with the 7-0 and 8-7 victories, the Red Hawks wrapped up the top seed for the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Softball Tournament for the second straight year. 

Following the regular-season finale April 26, the tourney’s top three seeds will host first-round NJAC Tournament games at campus sites April 29, and MSU will host the remainder of the tournament May 2-4. 

For the Pioneers, the twin bill marked the final home contests of the season as WP recognized Diana Schraer (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) and Kat Wehmann ( Harrington Park, N.J./Old Tappan) on Senior Day.

The Red Hawks struck immediately during the first inning of Game One, pushing across four runs.  Senior Jackie Ferranti ( Bergenfield, N.J./Bergenfield) led off the contest with a double inches inside the right-field line, followed by a wild pitch, and a Maureen Shockley (Magnolia, N.J./Triton) RBI-single.  Junior Jennifer Jimenez (Linden, N.J./Linden) then hit a ball to the WP third baseman, who attempted to get the force out at second but was too late, resulting in a fielder’s choice, and sophomore Megan Durkin’s (West Orange, N.J./West Orange) bunt single loaded the bases for Kacie Neurouter (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Valley).  Neurouter’s chopper to shortstop allowed the Pioneers to get the first out of the inning at the plate, but a Kelly Karp (Edison, N.J./Edison) single and a Kelly Nance (Marlboro, N.J./Marlboro) walk gave Montclair State a 3-0 edge.  Sophomore Danielle Ballard (Lynbrook, N.Y./Lynbrook) entered to relieve Schraer with the bases loaded and one out, and she was able to get a pop-up before allowing a Leslie Gonzalez (North Bergen, N.J./North Bergen)  run-scoring infield single, making it a 4-0 score.

WP nearly pulled within one during the bottom of the sixth when pinch hitter Jenna Vitale ( Kenilworth, N.J./David Brearley) roped a pitch down the left-field line with the bases loaded, but the ball hit the fence inches outside of the foul pole.

Ballard worked herself out of jams to keep the Red Hawks off the scoreboard, and sat the MSU hitters down in order during the sixth, but Montclair State was able to break through for three runs in the top of the seventh, thanks to a two-run Ferranti single and a Shockley RBI-double.

Ferranti was 2-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a pair of runs scored to lead the Red Hawks, while Shockley and Durkin each had a pair of hits for MSU.  Junior Meghan Reilly (Middlesex, N.J./Middlesex) was 2-for-3 for the Pioneers.

Carolyn McCrea (Wharton, N.J./Jefferson Twp.) threw the seven-hit shutout for Montclair State to improve to 18-2.  Schraer suffered the loss to fall to 11-6.

MSU scored the first run of the night cap after back-to-back doubles by Ferranti and Shockley in the bottom of the third inning, but the Pioneers responded with a four-run outburst during the top of the fourth.  Vitale singled, Ana Abourashed (Middlesex, N.J./Middlesex) doubled, and after Wehmann pinch-ran for Abourashed, freshman Nicole Jimmerson ( North Bergen, N.J./High Tech) was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Freshman Lindsey Nadolny (Belford, N.J./Middletown North) singled in Vitale to tie the score at 1-1, Reilly drove in a pair with a single up the middle, and Nadolny later trotted home after a ground-out to the pitcher, giving William Paterson a 4-1 lead.

Montclair ’s Whitney Driver ( Montville, N.J./Morristown-Beard) hit a two-run homer two feet inside the left foul pole, cutting the WP advantage to 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth.  A Nadolny single and a Reilly sacrifice fly pushed William Paterson’s lead back to three at 6-3 in the fifth, and Vitale’s leadoff single, a sacrifice, and a Tara Perez ( Sparta, N.J./Sparta) double made it a 7-3 score in the top of the seventh inning.

The Red Hawks began the bottom of the seventh with three straight singles by Neurouter, Karp and Nance, plating two runs to pull within two at 7-5.  Vitale was replaced by Ballard inside the circle with zero outs and a runner on second, and she was greeted by a Driver single to left, and a Gonzalez base hit that scored Nance.  Driver scored the tying run after a Ferranti single down the left-field line, and Shockley drove in the game winner with her single up the middle, plating Gonzalez from second and giving the Red Hawks the 8-7 victory after they strung together seven consecutive singles to score the five runs.

Ferranti was 4-for-5 at the plate, Gonzalez was 3-for-4, and five other Red Hawks each had two hits during the second game.  Vitale was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, and Nadolny was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI for William Paterson.

Karp threw 4.0 innings of five-run ball for MSU, and Elia Persico (Marlton, N.J./Cherokee) picked up the win in relief (3-1), allowing four hits and two runs in 3.0 innings.  Vitale started for the Pioneers and gave up 14 hits and six runs in 6.0 innings.  Ballard took the loss (2-3) after allowing two runs to score in the seventh.