The opening round of the NJSIAA North 1, Group 1 softball playoffs on Thursday was a nail-biter to the end: After five lead changes, the sixth-seeded Verona High School softball team finally pulled out a 5-4 win over #11 seed Hasbrouck Heights. The Hillbillies went up for good in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI double by sophomore Meghan Yeates off Hasbrouck Heights pitcher Jessica Gasparino, scoring Olivia Haveron, a junior. Yeates had two extra-base hits for Hillbillies.
Paige Ferrell got it done in the circle on the way to a win, allowing four runs over eight innings. Ferrell, who was recently named Senior Athlete of the Week by the Verona Sports Boosters, struck out 10, walked one and gave up 11 hits. The Hillbillies were sparked by Yeates and freshman Amber Reed, who teamed up for three hits and two RBIs.
The top of the first saw Hasbrouck Heights take an early lead, 1-0. Hasbrouck Heights matched its one-run fifth inning with one more in the seventh. Hillbillies quickly matched Hasbrouck Heights’ strong inning with a three-run inning of its own in the fifth. Hillbillies scored on a walk by Reed, an RBI single by senior Olivia Feiger, and an RBI single by sophomore Rebecca Russomano. It didn’t take long for the Lady Hillbillies to answer, as the team scored one run of its own in the seventh: VHS scored on an RBI single by Kaitlyn Deo to tie the game and allow for extra innings.
“I think early on the girls’ nerves got the best of them,” said Coach Angela Salisbury. “But we had been making good contact up at bat all day and we have come back down three or more runs before. It was only a matter of time that we would string some of those hits together and score some runs. Paige was doing so well on the mound, I knew our offense would come through for her.”
Verona, which has a 15-6 record overall and is 10-2 in league, now has to wait to see who the winner of (#14) Waldwick vs. (#3) Midland Park is, and that game will most likely be played on Tuesday. If Waldwick advances, VHS softball will have another home game. If not, they’ll be on the road at Midland Park.
Photos copyright Andy Yeates. Used by permission.