Perfect is the only way to describe the first two rounds of the 10U Verona Barnstormers softball team’s playoff run. “Two” perfect in fact. Natalia (“Tali”) LoCurto and Kamdyn (“Kami”) Matthews each threw perfect games just 10 hours apart to advance the Barnstormers into the semifinal round of the NJBSL Spring Softball League.
In vanquishing the Packanack Lake Green Pirates 12-0 in the first round, LoCurto struck out seven with her dizzying array of fastballs and change-ups. The Pirates best chance to put a runner on base occurred early when their lead-off hitter laid down a terrific bunt. Verona 3B Sara Bochicchio, however, was up to the challenge as her bare hand grab and throw nipped the runner by a step. From there, the Pirates only put four more balls in play off LoCurto, but the deft “up the middle” defense of LoCurto, Faith Reed (SS) and Jackie Loudon (2B) flawlessly handled their opportunities.
LoCurto’s pitching gem was backed by a relentless Verona offense. Every girl in the lineup reached base at least once and either scored a run or drove in a run in this total team effort. The Barnstormers pounded out 12 hits: Kami Matthews 2 for 3 with her 6th HR of the season, Sara Bochicchio 3 for 3, Sam Costigan 2 for 3, Ava Perry 2 for 2, and 1 hit apiece from Jackie Loudon, Sabrina Thompson and Emily Baumgard. Patient at-bats by Faith Reed (1BB, 1 Run), Sydney Aiello (1 BB, 1 Run) and Sara Tortoriello (1 BB, 1 RBI) were also an integral part of the Verona attack.
In the nightcap played under the lights at Everett Field vs. Hanover Park, Kami Matthews was equally dominant. In leading Verona to a 14 – 0 win over the Hornets, Matthews struck out 11 by painting the corners with a lively accurate fastball. Unlike the early sterling defense needed to preserve the LoCurto perfect game, Hanover Park’s best chance to put a runner on base came with the last batter of the game. Matthews fell behind in the count 3-0 but battled back with three straight “lasers” for strikes to finish off her gem.
Like LoCurto, Matthews received strong offensive support from her teammates. Sam Costigan, who caught both perfect games, put the Barnstormers up early with her two out-two run HR (her second of the season). Verona’s balanced attack–which again saw every girl in the lineup reach base at least once–produced 12 hits (Costigan 3 for 3, Emily Baumgard 2 for 2, Tali Locurto 2 for 3, and one hit apiece from Faith Reed, Jackie Loudon, Kami Matthews, Sabrina Thompson and Ava Perry) and 10 walks (Sara Bochicchio 1 BB, 1 Run, Sydney Aiello 2 BBs and Juliana Squilanti 2 BBs, 2 runs). This offensive onslaught allowed Matthews to challenge the Hanover Park hitters throughout the course of the evening on her way to perfection.
To date, the 10U Barnstormers have complied a record of 16-2 with strong team pitching, hitting and defense. The Barnstormers now await to learn who their next opponent will be in the semi-final round on the NJBSL Spring Softball League.