MOUNTAIN LAKES _ Nikki Zannelli has a hit in every game but one this season yet Mountain Lakes' junior second baseman considered herself in a slump going into the Lakers' game against Boonton.
Zannelli felt something was amiss and that led to her being videotaped by Mountain Lakes coach Alison Preston.
"Going into our game on Friday, Nikki said 'I don't know what's wrong. I can't hit,'" Preston recalled.
The videotape revealed that Zannelli wasn't tracking the ball. Her head was in but her eyes weren't following the pitch.
However, after the Lakers' 7-5 victory over Boonton on Monday, May 14, Zannelli, who went 2 for 4 with three RBIs, was satisfied. One of her hits, a triple, provided Mountain Lakes with its first run in the third inning. She also had a two-run base hit in the bottom of the fifth inning to put the Lakers in front, 7-4.
"My hitting has been pretty bad," said Zannelli. "It's been a mix of everything. Sometimes, it goes my way. Sometimes, not. I just wanted to hit well today."
And she obviously did. Each time Zannelli, an EMT with an interest in pursuing a career in the field of medicine in the future, went to the plate, Preston reminded her to keep her eyes on the ball. Teammate Julia Matalon, the right fielder, did the tosses while Zannelli hit into a net prior to the game and sensed that she was going to have a big day.
"Nikki was hitting really well," Matalon said. "I was rooting for her to knock over the net."
The two-hit effort boosted Zannelli's season total to 25. She has 22 RBIs.
Boonton went up 3-0 in the second inning on Sophie Reed's sacrifice fly, Merissa Runfeldt's RBI single and Ailina Dauti's sacrifice fly. Freshman Jordyn Serchio went the first five innings for Boonton before senior ace Katie Preston stepped in and finished.
Mountain Lakes (8-11) got two runs in the third inning on an error, Zannelli's RBI triple and Jenna Stickley's run-producing base hit. In the fifth, the Bombers pulled ahead, 4-2, when Reed doubled to the fence in left field and scored on an error.
In the lower half of the fifth, the Lakers pulled even, 4-4, courtesy of Lea Credidio's two-run single.
The sixth inning, in which Mountain Lakes scored three runs, featured a two-run base hit by Zannelli. Leadoff batter Jess Torch, who recently got her 100th career hit, plated what proved to be the winning run with a bunt. Boonton posted its last run in the top of the seventh inning on Michelle Becker's single. Sydney Dolan opened the inning with a single to shallow right field - her third hit of the game - and moved to second on a groundout before Becker lashed her base hit.
"We couldn't hit the first pitcher. She was crafty," Boonton coach Jim Drury said. "We scored when we had runners on but didn't get other hits. Mountain Lakes had timely hitting."
With the win, the Lakers doubled the amount of victories they had last season. That was an important milestone for a team that has struggled in recent years.
"We've had our ups and downs," Zannelli said. "We're not getting mercied anymore. We're always in the games."
***PHOTO GALLERY BELOW***
Latest from Sandy Seegers