Softball Splits in NJAC Tournament

Little Falls, NJ (5/3/08) – Sophomore righthander Ashley Minervini (Cliffside Park, NJ / Cliffside Park) tossed her third straight shutout and scored the game-winning run on a bases-loaded walk with two out in the bottom of the eighth inning as fourth-seeded The College of New Jersey moved into the driver’s seat of the NJAC Tournament with a 1-0 win over No. 5 Montclair State in Game 7 of the tournament at the MSU Softball Stadium on Saturday.

Camille Heller ( Maple Shade, NJ / Maple Shade) was the recipient of the free pass for the lone RBI of the game, as the Lions (26-15) are now one win away from capturing the 2008 NJAC crown and accompanying automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. New Jersey will face Montclair State at Noon on Sunday, May 4 and needs to win just once to secure its 12 th league crown and first since 2000. If Montclair State wins the first contest, a winner-take-all game will follow at 2:30 pm.

The Red Hawks (40-4) were able to get the rematch with TCNJ after disposing of fifth-seeded Kean University, 8-1 in the final game of the day. In the middle contest, Kean eliminated No. 13 and second-seeded Ramapo, 2-1 in eight innings.

Scoring was hard to come by as Minervini, the hottest pitcher in the tournament, allowed just four hits, struck out three and walked one as she improved to 15-8. Minervini, who has yet to allow a run in three NJAC tournament contests, out-dueled NJAC Pitcher of the Year Carolyn McCrea (Wharton, NJ / Jefferson), who also gave up four hits, fanned nine and walked three.

Both teams put up zeroes on the scoreboard until the bottom of the eighth and Minervini helped herself by doubling to right center to start the inning. After a sacrifice moved the runner to third. Colleen Cawley ( Riverton, NJ / Holy Cross) was hit by a pitch and Kelly Armstrong ( Jackson, NJ / Jackson Memorial) walked to load the bases. McCrea would fan the next hitter, but went four balls out of the zone to Heller that gave the Lions the one-run victory.

Ellen Seavers ( Ridgewood, NJ / Ridgewood) had two of the four hits for TCNJ while NJAC Co-Player of the Year Jackie Ferranti ( Bergenfield, NJ / Bergenfield) was 2-for-4 for Montclair State.

The Red Hawks would bounce back and remain alive as it scored the first eight runs of the game in defeating Kean for the third time this season. Megan Durkin ( West Orange, NJ / West Orange) had an RBI single and Ferranti scored on a passed ball as MSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Montclair extended that advantage to 5-0 in the third with three runs. Freshman catcher Kacie Neurouter (Wayne, NJ / Wayne Valley) brought home one run with a base hit and Amanda Livsey (Congers, NY / Clarkstown North) delivered a two-run single.

The lead would grow to 8-0 in the fourth as Ferranti and Durkin each drove in a run as did Jennifer Jimenez ( Linden, NJ / Linden). That would be all junior lefthander Kelly Karp ( Edison, NJ / Edison) would need as she improved to 16-0. Karp allowed one run and five hits, striking out two and walking four before Elia Persico ( Marlton, NJ / Cherokee) pitched a scoreless seventh.

Cassie Shotwell ( Dunnellen, NJ / Dunnellen) suffered the loss falling to 4-3. Vicki Lanza ( Edison, NJ / Edison) had two hits while Sara Steinman ( Springfield, NJ / Jonathan Dayton) drove in the lone run for the Cougars, who fell to 29-15 with the loss.

Before being eliminated by Montclair State, Kean staged some late-inning dramatics as it defeated Ramapo for the first time in four tries this season.

The Roadrunners led 2-0 after three innings as Marilee Farmer ( Toms River, NJ / Toms River East) and Rachel Wong ( Livingston, NJ / Livingston) each collected RBI singles in the third. Kean would get a run back in the fifth on a Johanna Hedler ( South Plainfield, NJ / South Plainfield) RBI double and then tied the game at 2-2 one inning later as Steinman singled in a run.

In the bottom of the eighth, Lanza led off with a walk and Kara Schultz ( Clinton, NJ / North Hunterdon) singled in the infield. A sacrifice moved the runners to second and third and Steinman walked to load the bases. Ramapo would get the much-needed second out with a force out at home, but would not be as fortunate on the next ground ball as the catcher came off the plate on the force allowing the winning run to score as Kean remained alive with the 2-1 win.

Kristen Hennings ( Jackson, NJ / Jackson) picked up the win as she went the distance, improving to 6-6. Katie Norton ( Livingston, NJ / Mt. St. Dominic) took the loss to fall to 14-4 as she went 3.1 in relief.

Schultz and Allison Lizzi ( Cherry Hill, NJ / Cherry Hill West) each had two hits for Kean.

Wong was 3-for-4 for Ramapo while Kelly Schriber ( Montclair, NJ / Montclair) and NJAC Co-Player of the Year Lauren Cascino (New Windsor, NY/ Cornwall Central) each collected two hits.