DENVILLE _ It seems like Breanna O'Shea will be sharing her bat for awhile.
O'Shea, Morris Knolls' senior left fielder, loaned her bat to teammate and close friend Allie Schey after the knob fell off Schey's bat during practice before a game two days ago.
After breaking out of a deep slump with two hits, one of them a double, in the Golden Eagles' 5-1 Morris County Tournament quarterfinal victory over Kinnelon on Saturday, April 29, Schey is convinced the Louisville Slugger bat is "magical."
"I finally got out of that slump. I'm killing it now," said Schey, a senior first baseman. "I used to get on base only on errors. I have a high on-base percentage and low batting average."
Expect that average to rise and for Schey, the No. 2 batter, to have an ever-present smile if she continues to thrive at the plate. It sounded like Schey was actually glad to bid farewell to her "ugly bat" which was rainbow colored and had a flower on it.
"Everyone made fun of it," Schey said. "It's OK that it's broken."
O'Shea, sixth in the order, was fond of the bat, too, using it to stroke a bases-loaded single up the middle in the fifth inning. Her base hit produced Morris Knolls' third and fourth runs versus the Colts.
"I just had to get a hit, get on somehow," said O'Shea, who connected off a first pitch. "I was good with being up in that situation. I said 'I'll hit her. I'm on her.'"
Schey will keep the bat in college when she plays at Shenandoah University. O'Shea has decided her softball career will end with high school.
With their ouster of eighth-seeded Kinnelon, the top-seeded Golden Eagles, buoyed by a 12-hit attack, earned a berth in the MCT semifinals opposite No. 4 Chatham. The other semifinals matches seventh-seeded Parsippany and third-seeded Pequannock. Those games will be played on Saturday, May 6 at Landing Park.
Gaining a berth in the MCT Final Four comes with perks for Morris Knolls.
"Coach Heinemann buys us sandwiches," Schey said.
"Whenever we talk about the counties, we talk about sandwiches," Schey said. "If we can get to the final, we'll get more sandwiches."
Morris Knolls (13-2) was disappointed last season, losing to Chatham, 1-0, in the quarterfinal round. In 2015, Butler handed the Golden Eagles a 1-0 setback in the semifinal round of the MCT. That's why Morris Knolls is hungry for another title. The Golden Eagles last held the tournament trophy in 2014.
"We know we have to prove ourselves," O'Shea said. "We didn't like that we didn't have a higher seed last year. We didn't come out strong. We're working harder this time."
Brooke Wiarda, who struck out five and walked four, surrendered one hit to Kinnelon, an RBI double by Jenna Meluso in the fourth inning that made the score, 2-1.
The Golden Eagles went up 1-0 in the first inning on an error. They made it 2-0 in the second inning on Melissa Ackerman's single. Ackerman knocked in Carly Mahan, who had a base hit to start the inning.
Kinnelon's run was set up by a walk. With two outs, Meluso came up with a clutch double. After O'Shea's two-run single, Wiarda drove in Morris Knolls' last run with a single.
"I knew Kinnelon would be good. They have a lot of talent and a great coach," Golden Eagles coach Keith Heinemann said. "Maybe our experience helped us a little today. The wind held up some balls and led to runs. I think both pitchers pitched well. We just had timely hitting."