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Softball

No. 1 MK honored yet wary

DOVER _ In the eyes of Morris Knolls coach Keith Heinemann, being the top seed in a tournament is an honor but moreso a cause for angst. "I really don't care what the seed is," Heinemann said. "We can be first, fifth or seventh. What's important is going out and winning the games. Tournaments are single elimination. Anything can happen on any given day." So, for a minute or two on Tuesday, April 18, Heinemann was flattered when the Golden Eagles (9-1) were voted the No. 1 seed for the 2017 Morris County Softball Tournament. His thoughts then went back…

Pequannock beats Butler for first time since 2013

PEQUANNOCK _ There's never been room for pessimism in the Pequannock softball program. However, the Golden Panthers very, very reluctantly became realists during Larissa Spellman's tenure at Butler. Hits were tough to come by when the right-handed ace was in the circle yet Pequannock kept trying. Now that Spellman's gone, Pequannock, held to seven hits over six games in the previous three seasons, felt much better about stepping into the batter's box. On Tuesday, April 18, the Golden Panthers, buoyed by Jonnalyn McClain's two hits and two RBIs, triumphed 7-1 over the Bulldogs and stretched their winning streak to 10 games. It…

Vincent powers Red Hawks

PEQUANNOCK _ Julia Vincent certainly knows how to operate all the angles. The Parsippany freshman used her expert softball diamond geometric knowledge to go 3 for 4 with a triple, a home run, a walk and six RBIs in slugging the Red Hawks to an 18-12 victory over Indian Hills on Saturday, April 15 at the Hillview School in Pompton Plains. Vincent, the leadoff batter, had a solo home run in the third inning, a three-run triple in the fourth inning and added a walk with the bases loaded in the sixth and a run-scoring single in the seventh.With the Indian Hills outfield…

Another honor for Coach O

MOUNT OLIVE _ Amy Banghart and her teammates could not fathom the request made by George Ottavinia, their new high school softball coach. The girls, committed to playing a sport, figured they'd be gripping and swinging bats, not using shovels to clear their field of snow so they could engage in a preseason practice. That's why Banghart's eyes opened wide as did her mouth when Ottavinia instructed her and the Marauders to get busy. "We thought 'What?!? We're girls,'" Banghart said after Ottavinia was inducted into the Mount Olive High School Hall of Fame in September 2016. "We had never…

Bubba, Lions top Jefferson

JEFFERSON _ Pope John pitcher Gabby Bubba was gleeful about the opportunity to play Jefferson. On the other hand, not so much. Bubba grew up playing softball with many of the Falcons but had never faced them in a game because the two teams were in different conferences. April 11, 2017 became a significant date when Jefferson was moved to the American Division of the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference. As the game approached, Bubba, a senior, knew it was going to be "weird" pitching to some of the Jefferson players whom she began playing travel softball with at the age of 9. Several of them are her close…

Crusaders rally past Boonton

BOONTON _ Sarah Reed gave Boonton a two-run lead in dramatic fashion, belting a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning for her 100th career hit. The excitement of the blast was short lived, however, as Morris Catholic scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning to register a come-from-behind 7-4 victory and deny the Bombers their first win. Falling behind didn't rattle the Crusaders. They simply went out and did what they needed to do, getting hits and benefiting from four errors. Pitcher Grace Stairiker did her part, keeping Boonton scoreless in the bottom of…

Golden Eagles stun Mt. Olive

DENVILLE _ It was an afternoon of unusual occurrences, right down to the final score - Morris Knolls 9, Mount Olive 1. Of course, the outcome elated the Golden Eagles, who rode Brooke Wiarda's three-hitter and Melissa Ackerman's three-run home run to a non-conference victory on Saturday, April 8. For the Marauders, who committed 11 errors, five of them mental, and had troubles at the plate, the game was upsetting. "Next time, it's going to be a whole different game," Morris Knolls coach Keith Heinemann said. "It won't be as cold and probably not as windy. This is an early season…

Grebin, Naples homer for Crimson in opener

MORRISTOWN _ What was excellent for Morristown-Beard - seven runs scored with two outs - was, of course, just the opposite for Boonton. In two innings, the Crimson, who received home runs from Zoe Grebin and Bay Naples in their season opener, put their offense into overdrive with two outs en route to an 11-5 victory over the Bombers. "I was really pleased by that," Morristown-Beard coach Kevin McDonald said following the game on Saturday, April 1. "Very happy. The girls stayed focused. We were solid in all three phases of the game. We have a few things to correct but to…

Gilbert, Brunner spark offense

RIDGEWOOD _ Outside pitches hold no appeal for Hanover's Megan Gilbert. So when the first few offerings by Ridgewood pitcher Olivia Stoehr were wide, Gilbert figured she had no choice. "Go for it," she told herself. Gilbert, the third baseman fond of pitches low and a little inside, extended her arms and made contact, driving in Hanover's second run in the first inning. The hits kept coming for Hanover, which blanked Ridgewood 11-0 in its second game at the Section 1 Little League Softball Tournament on Wednesday, July 6. "Everything was outside," said Gilbert, who picked up another RBI with a…

Sheplak homers for Gold Team

  MONTVILLE _ Morris Hills' Elise Sheplak sensed a "good hit" based on the way the ball sounded and felt when it came off her bat in the top of the sixth inning. Sheplak, playing for the Gold Team at the Morris County Senior All-Star Game, actually saw the 3-2 pitch leave the hand of Morristown-Beard's Sara Seuffert and tracked it until making contact. The Scarlet Knights' first baseman took her first step out of the batter's box and tripped. Sheplak took a second to scold herself then, coaxed on by first base coach Anthony Castano of Hanover Park, she began her home run trot. The two-run…