KINNELON _ It was a a premium double-platinum performance by Kinnelon's Emma Whittemore.
In addition to shining brightly in the circle by firing a no-hitter, the multi-talented freshman right-hander also went 4 for 4 at the plate with three RBIs to help lift the Colts over Morris Catholic, 11-1, in five innings in a Morris County Softball Tournament first-round game at Recreation Park on Thursday, April 27.
Kinnelon, which has won 10 of its last 11 games, will face top-seeded Morris Knolls in the MCT quarterfinals on Saturday, April 29 at 11 a.m.
Whittemore (5-1) struck out eight, walked none and hit one batter in her terrific effort, pitching to only three batters over the minimum. Ninth-seeded Morris Catholic (8-6) scored its only run in the third on a two-base error, a wild pitch and then another miscue with two outs.
Hitting in the No. 5 slot in the order, Whittemore had an RBI single when eighth-seeded Kinnelon (10-3) broke through for five runs in the first inning, then singled again in the second before having a base hit for an RBI in the fourth. Her run-scoring single in the bottom of the fifth ended the game by giving Kinnelon its 10-run lead.
"I had thrown two innings against them earlier (in relief in a 5-2 loss to Morris Catholic on opening day April 3), so that gave me some valuable experience going up against some of their top hitters," said Whittemore. "When we put five runs on the board in the first inning that was really big, too. I was able to pitch ahead in the count most of the time and I had confidence my defense would get the job done."
Also figuring prominently for Kinnelon was another freshman, second baseman Brooke Jacko. She also went 4 for 4 and belted a triple to go along with four runs scored and three stolen bases.
"I just wanted to contribute in any way possible, to move a runner or runners up when needed," said Jacko, who had a bunt single to help spark the five-run outburst in the opening frame. "We want to keep rolling along and continue to play at a consistently high level."
After junior center fielder Haley Angelica led off the game with a double and Jacko had her bunt hit, junior shortstop Alexa Saccomanno lofted a sacrifice fly to center to make it 1-0. Following Whittemore's RBI single, sophomore left fielder Cristina Avato (3 for 3, double, two runs scored) had a two-run single and junior designated player Sierra Jacko had a run-scoring hit to account for the inning's five runs.
Saccomanno (three RBIs for game) had a single that scored a run to make it 6-0 in the second. Junior first baseman Jess Ratz had an RBI grounder in the third to make it 7-1 and sophomore right fielder Jessica Handzo had an RBI hit in the fourth.
Whittemore hurled a seven-inning no-hitter, striking out 12 and walking six when Kinnelon turned back Roxbury, 9-0, on April 9.
The Colts have outscored their opponents, 101-34 this season and have slugged nine home runs - three apiece for Whittemore and sophomore third baseman Jenna Meluso (2 for 4 with two runs scored against Morris Catholic) and one each for Ratz, Saccomanno and Angelica.
Kinnelon, which has no seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen on its roster, is directed by first-year coach Jim Dransfield. Dransfield was the softball coach for 23 seasons from 1989 through 2011 at West Milford, compiling a 547-108 (.835 winning percentage) mark with 19 conference championships, nine Passaic County Tournament titles and seven sectional championships in addition to reaching four state finals.
The 57-year-old Dransfield, a Kinnelon resident, has been an assistant football coach for the Colts the last five seasons under Kevin White. He was part of the staff in 2012 when Kinnelon earned its initiial sectional football championship in school history as the Colts defeated New Milford, 26-14, in the North Jersey Section 1, Group II final.
He also was the head football coach at West Milford in 2010 and 2011 and served as an assistant for the Highlanders for 27 seasons.