Carlie Goldstein and Melanie Naeris may not have been trying to deliver a ball to their parents when they sent back-to-back homers soaring over the fenceline on Thursday, but it was hard not to notice that the families were standing pretty close to where each one landed. The power blasts propelled the Verona High School softball team to a 4-0 win over Hackettstown in the North 2 Group 2 Sectional semifinals. Verona will face Parsippany in the championship on Saturday.
The homer and win may have been particularly sweet for Goldstein, who had been the starting catcher for the softball team her freshman year, only to be forced to the sidelines in her sophomore year because of a torn labrum and losing the whole junior season to the pandemic. She has been a power hitter this year, with six home runs, four triples and six doubles in 67 at bats. Goldstein announced earlier this year that she will be playing for Division III Gettysburg College in the future.
Naeris, a strong factor at the plate since the start of her varsity career, has been on the mound for Verona this season, pitching 106 innings and getting 115 strikeouts–12 of which in the contest against Hackettstown alone. As a batter this season, Naeris has delivered 10 doubles, three homes and two triples in 59 at bats.
Verona got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the first, and stayed in a wary circle with Hackettstown until the Goldstein-Naeris homers broke the game open in the fifth. Samantha Costigan and Sara Bochicchio also lifted Verona’s spirits with a double and a single, respectively.
Hackettstown came into the NJSIAA playoffs as the No. 8 seed, but in the quarterfinals, the team stunned No. 1 seed Caldwell with an 8-6 upset. Verona, the No. 5 seed this year, had a 10-0 opening round win over Leonia and then defeated Madison 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
Parsippany, the No. 2 seed, heads to the championship with three shut-outs to its credit. The team crushed Ridgefield Park 15-0 in the opening round and went 4-0 over Bernards in the quarterfinals before defeating Lyndhurst 6-0 in its semifinal on Wednesday. Verona and Parsippany last played each other in 2019, with Verona getting an 11-0 win.
The championship game at Parsippany High School, 309 Baldwin Road, starts at 10 a.m.
Photos copyright Mike Perry. Used by permission.