CRANFORD _ The Morris Knolls softball team went through a year's worth of emotions in a Group III semifinal versus Cranford.
There was the possibility of disappointment because of lighting then heavy rain when the Golden Eagles were warming up. The delay brought on uncertainty. Early on, there was immense joy as Morris Knolls posted three first-inning runs and tacked on seven more in the third inning.
Later, there was dread and, no doubt, queasiness as the Cougars chipped away at what seemed like a safe 10-run lead, uttimately tying the score in the bottom of the seventh inning.
In spite of all of the intense situations and the many peaks and valleys, Morris Knolls, whose bats boomed, pounding out 18 hits, went short and emerged with a 12-11 victory courtesy of Anna Chominsky's squeeze bunt in the eighth inning.
"Cranford had such great energy," said Chominsky, a first baseman and one of four freshmen to start for the Golden Eagles. "That made it more exciting. We had to fight more for what we wanted. This shows what kind of a team we are moreso than blowouts. Our character came through in this game."
It sure did.
Heading the list of those with exceptional temperament and steadiness in this game was Chominsky. In a game against Cedar Grove last month, Chominsky was called upon to squeeze in a run with runners on second and third but she popped out in the pressure spot and Morris Knolls fell, 2-1. She wasn't going to let it happen again.
Chominsky put down the bunt and Julia Fox, who singled, moved to second on a groundout and took third on a wild pitch, raced home with what would prove to be the decisive run.
"Moments like the one in the Cedar Grove game prepare you for later moments," Golden Eagles coach Keith Heinemann said. "Anna's a good bunter and we needed the ball in play."
Intent on executing and redeeming herself, Chominsky squared off a made contact on an 0-1 pitch.
"Before the (Cedar Grove) game, I never really had a lot of bunt plays," she said. "Never when it was so tight. I had to keep my composure, clear my mind and do my job. I didn't overthink it. I stayed with it and did what was best for the team."
Yet it still wasn't time to engage in revelry. Cranford put two runners on in the lower part of the eighth. Katie Bendert singled and went to second on a groundout. With two outs, Alexa Stulpin walked for first and second. A popup ended the threat.