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Wildcats move on in states; 250th for Callaghan

The Wildcats' Mikayla Swan at the plate during a state game against Ridgefield. Photos by Sandy Seegers The Wildcats' Mikayla Swan at the plate during a state game against Ridgefield.
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HANOVER _ For the Whippany Park softball team, posting a 12-1 win over Ridgefield was another step on the way to defending back-to-back sectional titles.

Wildcats coach Todd Callaghan received an unexpected surprise after the North Jersey Section 2, Group I clash, learning he had secured his 250th career victory.

May 23 was a productive and memorable day all around for fourth-seeded Whippany Park, which used Mikayla Swan's three-hitter and a 12-hit attack to power past the Royals.

"It's always a goal to get some sort of championship," Callaghan said. "By winning, we have a chance to go on and, hopefully, defend."

Whippany Park (15-4) will travel to Cedar Grove on Tuesday, May 24 for a sectional semifinal. According to Swan, the junior righty who struck out six and walked one in the five-inning game, the Wildcats are "pumped and ready to show up."

"We want to show why we won and prove that we're still a threat," said Swan, looking back on championships attained in 2019 and 2021. "They'll be out to get us for last year and two years ago."

Swan, the team's ace after the graduation of her older sister, Julia, will do all she can to keep Whippany Park alive in the state tournament. Versus Ridgefield, the No. 5 seed, she was in command and dominated with her effective curveball. The offense was powered by sophomore third baseman Michaela Schwippert, whose bat boomed. Schwippert rapped out out three hits, including a double, and knocked in a pair of runs.

Megan Gilbert had two hits and two RBIs. The other player with multiple hits was Swan, who singled twice. A double came off the bat of Alessandra Middleton, the third player to drive in two runs.

"We're very excited about having another game," Schwippert said. "We have to keep our heads in and bring our bats. Whoever hits better will win."

It was the second time this season Schwippert has gotten three hits. She experienced a slump in late April but has improved her performance at the plate.

"I was out of it for a little bit but I've come back," said Schwippert (23 RBIs). "I was thinking too much instead of playing the game I know how to play. I was getting too anxious and my hands were too tight on the bat."

Whippany Park came out strong, getting five runs in the first inning and tacked on four more in the second. The last three runs were scored in the third inning.

There was happiness all around afterwards as the players met in the outfield for their post-game "biscuit," a Starburst. Former assistant coach Brad Callahan came up with the idea three years ago and it has persisted. Soon after, the Wildcats gathered on the infield for photos and Callaghan was presented with a poster commemorating the milestone victory.

"I'm surprised they knew," Callahan said. "It's nice but I wasn't expecting to celebrate. At 100, 200 and 300, you expect it. To be recognized feels good."

His players were delighted for him.

"He's put a lot of work into the program," Swan said. "It's great he's getting something out of it."

"I love this for him," said Schwippert. "He wants us to be better and has done so much. It's nice for him to get the recognition."

***PHOTO GALLERY BELOW***

Last modified onTuesday, 24 May 2022 05:41
Sandy Seegers

Sandy will post her bio soon

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