PARSIPPANY _ Freshman Rachel Volarich is considered Parsippany's eighth or ninth best hitter.
That sounds like a harsh assessment but it is not at all an insult. The Red Hawks' lineup is laden with consistent batters. There's no particular reason why Volarich is No. 9 in the order.
On Saturday, April 28, Volarich had three hits, one of them a ground-rule double to left field that knocked in two runs in the five-run fifth inning, to help top-seeded and defending champion Parsippany to a 9-8 come-from-behind victory over ninth-seeded Kinnelon in Morris County Tournament quarterfinal-round action.
"It's a compliment to our team that Rachel is considered the eighth or ninth best," Red Hawks coach Greg Cleary said. "She's a scrappy hitter. Rachel would probably be a great No. 2 hitter. For now, we'll keep her where she is - a very tough out at the bottom of the order."
Parsippany (10-1) entered the lower half of the fifth inning trailing, 8-4. With the bases loaded and one out, Michelle Ebel drove in a run with an RBI base hit to left field. Volarich then stepped to the plate. The count went to 1-2 before Volarich drove in the sixth and seventh runs with her double. Claudia Bennett picked up an RBI with a bloop single to right field, knotting the score, 8-8. Julia Vincent hit a hard single off the third baseman's glove to drive in the Red Hawks' ninth run.
Never did Volarich doubt that Parsippany, which will face Hanover Park in the semifinals, would rally.
"I figured we'd have a big inning and we came together as a team in the fifth inning," Volarich said. "We knew we had to get runners on and drive them in. I had two strikes on me so I had to hit anything close to the plate. I hit an inside fastball. I'm so glad I was able to get us some runs."
There were ample opportunities for the Red Hawks early on. Five runners, one on third and two on second, were left stranded over the first four innings.
Doubles by Angelica Haley and Jenna Meluso provided the Colts with their first run in the two-run first inning. Two errors, two hit batsmen and hits by Brooke Jacko and Alexa Saccomanno added up to four more runs for Kinnelon in the second inning.
Parsippany evened the score, 2-2, in the bottom of the first inning on a home run by Gabby Gennarelli. The Red Hawks made it 6-4 by putting across two more runs in the third inning. In the top of the fourth, Kinnelon strung together hits by Haley, Jacko and Meluso and benefitted from an error to go up, 8-4.
An exceptional defensive play was made in the fourth inning. With Parsippany runners on first and second and two outs, Colts second baseman Cristina Avato made a back-to-the-infield catch of a ball hit to shallow right field depriving Gennarelli of a base hit.
"We didn't play well at the beginning," Cleary said. "We weren't throwing strikes and we had a few hiccups in the field. We lined out to end two innings. We deserved to be down by four after two innings."
Cleary said that his players came into the game having worked on "getting their front foot down on time."
"We prepared for this game like we used to prepare for (Larissa) Spellman," he said, referring to Butler's former ace. "I wing pitches at them in practice. We made sure they were on time with landing that front foot."
Volarich is looking forward to making her first appearance in the MCT semifinals.
"I'm so excited," Volarich said. "It's such a big game. We came together today. We cheered each other on. I thought we'd string together some hits eventually."
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Randolph 2, Chatham 0
For two games, the Rams struggled on offense, scoring once versus Pequannock and twice against Morris Knolls.
Randolph coach Ashley Kanya worried that her squad might not produce against Chatham in a MCT quarterfinal on Saturday, April 28.
It took until the sixth and seventh innings but the Rams finally began knocking in runs.
Two runs, which came courtesy of Emily Spingarn's RBI single and Lindsay Danias' home run, were enough when No. 7 Randolph blanked second-seeded Chatham in a MCT quarterfinal.
"We've had trouble scoring and Chatham did, too," Kanya said. "We havent been able to connect. We needed to make something happen."
In the sixth inning, Michelle McMillan and Amanda Flynn singled before Spingarn drove in the first run. Danias, a junior first baseman and three-year starter, homered to left center field with two outs.
"Lindsay has a good swing," Kanya said. "If she makes contact, it's solid. She saw the ball well today. I don't know what it was but I thought we'd score. My girls' energy level was high. I felt we had it. It was just a matter of when."
Amanda Flynn, a sophomore righty, went the distance for the Rams. She struck out nine and walked three while allowing two hits. Camryn Davies and Kaitlin Pinaire had hits for the Cougars.
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