Wayne, NJ (4/20/10) - In an important doubleheader for two teams fighting for a bid to the upcoming New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Softball Tournament, host William Paterson (21-10-1, 6-6 NJAC) split a twin bill with Montclair State (15-13, 5-7 NJAC) April 20. The Pioneers won the opener, 6-2, and the Red Hawks took the night cap, 4-3. William Paterson began the day tied for fifth place in the league standings and MSU was tied for seventh, both in the hunt for one of the six bids to the conference tourney that begins May 4.
William Paterson wasted little time, scoring twice during its first at-bat en route to a 6-2 opening victory.
After a leadoff double down the left-field line by junior Heather Mendez (Basking Ridge, N.J./Ridge) and a strikeout, Lindsey Nadolny’s (Belford N.J./Middletown North) groundout advanced Mendez to third. Junior Jenna Vitale (Kenilworth, N.J./David Brearley) then hit a ball hard under the glove of the charging MSU left fielder and it rolled all the way to the fence, a RBI-triple to plate Mendez for the day’s first run. Senior Christina Zippler (Blackwood, N.J./Washington Twp.) then stepped up and sent a base hit into center field, making it a 2-0 score.
Montclair State fought back to cut that lead in half during the top of the second. Senior Amanda Livsey (Congers, N.Y./Clarkstown North) hit a one-out double to left-center field, and two batters later Heather Bergman (Berkeley Heights, N.J./Governor Livingston) knocked her in when she flared a single into shallow right, a ball WP outfielder Jillian Mulderig (Sewell, N.J./Washington Twp.) dove for but could hold on to, to get the Red Hawks on the board.
Back-to-back singles with one out in the bottom of the fifth set the stage for Vitale, who doubled in both runners to make it a 4-1 score. Zippler sent Vitale home with a single back up the middle, and after a stolen base, she trotted home thanks to a base hit by junior Nicole Jimmerson (North Bergen, N.J./High Tech), pushing the Pioneers ahead by a 6-1 count.
MSU got one of those runs back during the top of the sixth after Leslie Gonzalez (West New York, N.J./North Bergen) led off with a triple to left field and scored via a Shannon Mozek (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Valley) base hit.
Zippler went 3-for-3 at the plate for WP, collecting two RBI while scoring once. Vitale was 2-for-3, hit a double and triple, crossed the plate twice and drove in three runs. Sophomore Michele Graham (Hawthorne, N.J./Hawthorne) earned the win inside the circle (12-7), giving up two runs on six hits, and striking out five Red Hawks without issuing a walk.
Gonzalez was 2-for-3, including a triple, for Montclair State. Freshman Jamie Miller (Spotswood, N.J./St. John Vianney) dropped to 7-5, surrendering 11 hits and six runs in 6.0 innings.
Two runs in the bottom of the sixth allowed Montclair State to get the split with a 4-3 second-game win.
Montclair State struck first, crossing the plate once during its first at-bat. After a leadoff single by Gonzalez, Mozek squared to sacrifice, but her bunt was good enough for a base hit. After a hit by pitch loaded the bases, the Pioneers were able to record the inning’s first out and get the lead runner with a throw home of a grounder to third. Livsey then hit a liner to right field that was caught by Mulderig, a sacrifice fly that plated Mozek and gave MSU a quick 1-0 edge.
That lead was short lived, however, as Vitale helped her own cause with a home run to center field, squaring the game at 1-1 during the top of the second. The Pioneers kept it tied by working out of a jam during the bottom half of the same inning, not allowing a run despite MSU having the bases loaded with one out, as Raquel Roder (Hoboken, N.J./Hoboken) charged hard to catch the second out in shallow left, and Lacey Santone (South Plainfield, N.J./South Plainfield) snagged a liner to short.
With runners on the corners and two outs in the fourth, Roder took off for second base on the double steal. The Montclair catcher elected to throw down to third, but the toss sailed in to left field, allowing Nadolny to sprint home for the unearned run and a 2-1 William Paterson advantage.
Montclair State evened the score during the bottom half of the fifth frame when Bergman dropped a two-out single into short right field, driving in Megan Durkin (West Orange, N.J./West Orange) from third.
Nadolny was hit by a pitch, moved from first to third on a ball in the dirt, and scored after a fielding error by the MSU shortstop, nudging the Pioneers ahead by a 3-2 count in the top of the sixth. But, the Red Hawks scored twice during the bottom of the same inning, thanks to back-to-back RBI-doubles from Mozek and Durkin, to once again take the lead.
The Pioneers started the top of the seventh by getting their first two hitters safely on base, but a long fly to center accounted for the first out, and a second flyout, coupled with the runner leaving too early from second base, ended the Pioneers’ comeback chances.
Jamie Paulino (Linden, N.J./Linden) and Durkin went 2-for-3 for MSU, while Gonzalez and Mozek were both 2-for-4. Senior Elia Persico (Marlton, N.J./Cherokee) gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits over 7.0 innings (8-7).
Nadolny was 2-for-2 and scored twice, and Zippler went 2-for-3 at the dish. Vitale pitched the first 1.1 innings, giving up five hits and one run. Freshman Kelsey Hand (Mountainville, N.Y./Cornwall Central) allowed one run on three hits during the middle 3.0 innings, and Graham suffered the loss in relief (12-8), surrendering two runs and four hits in 1.2 innings.
William Paterson will host DeSales Thursday, April 22, at 3:00 p.m. The Red Hawks will host Baruch April 22, also at 3:00 p.m.