Softball Holds Off WPU in NJAC Tournament

Little Falls, NJ (4/30/08) – Eight days after scoring five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat William Paterson, Montclair State was able to prevent the Pioneers from returning the favor as the top-seeded Red Hawks edged No. 6 seed WPU, 6-5 in the opening round of the 2008 NJAC Softball Tournament Championship at the MSU Softball Stadium on Wednesday.

Senior Jackie Ferranti (Bergenfield, NJ / Bergenfield), the NJAC Co-Player of the Year, Kelly Karp (Edison, NJ / Edison) and Kelly Nance (Marlboro, NJ / Marlboro) each belted homers as the sixth-ranked Red Hawks will face third-seed and No. 16 Rowan University at 1:30 pm on Friday as the remainder of the tournament moves to the MSU Softball Stadium for games May 2-4.  The win helped Montclair improve to 38-3 as MSU tied the single-season mark for victories set in 1997 and equaled last year.

Kelly Lauter (Succasunna, NJ / Roxbury), Jenna Vitale (Kennilworth, NJ / David Brearley) and Ana Abourashed (Middlesex, NJ / Middlesex) all homered for the Pioneers (22-19), who will face No. 5 seed Kean University in the tournament’s first elimination game on Friday at 11:00 am. Second-seeded Ramapo takes on No. 4 The College of New Jersey in the third game on Friday set for 4:00 pm.

The teams played a game of Home Run Derby through the first five innings. WPU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second as Abourashed, who beat MSU in the conference tournament last year with a home run, did it again with a solo blast, her second of the year. But Montclair answered right back in its half as Karp connected for her second of the season tying the game. In the third, it was the Red Hawks turn to go first as Ferranti smacked her sixth of the season to give Montclair the lead. William Paterson then tied the contest in the top of the fifth on Vitale’s second home run, a solo shot to right center. 

Following the Vitale round-tripper, Montclair State would bring deliver the first non-home run score as Maureen Shockley (Magnolia, NJ / Triton) singled home Whitney Driver (Montville, NJ / Morristown-Beard) and NJAC Rookie of the Year Leslie Gonzalez (North Bergen, NJ / North Bergen) scored on an error as the Red Hawks led 4-2. Montclair added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth as Nance cracked her first home run of the year. After an out, Gonzalez and Ferranti hit back-to-back doubles as MSU took a 6-2 lead heading into the seventh.

William Paterson mounted its rally as
Meghan Reilly (Middlesex, NJ / Middlesex) drew a leadoff walk and Lauter followed with a two-run homer to left center, trimming the MSU lead to 6-4. A walk and single put runners on first and second, but the Red Hawks got consecutive grounders, the second of which produced the final run as Nicole Jimmerson (North Bergen, NJ / High Tech) drove home Vitale with a fielder’s choice. MSU reliever Elia Persico (Marlton, NJ / Cherokee) got the final out to nail down her fifth save of the year.

Senior righthander Carolyn McCrea (Wharton, NJ / Jefferson) picked up the victory as she went the first six innings allowing four runs and six hits with four strikeouts and four walks. McCrea moved to 20-2 on the season while Vitale fell to 6-6 with the loss after surrendering 10 hits and six runs (four earned) with a strikeouts.

Ferranti, Shockley and Gonzalez each had two hits for Montclair State while Rayan Caruso (Madison, NJ / Madison) was 2-for-4 for William Paterson.