UNION, NJ - One can say that the distance between the top two softball teams in the county is razor thin.
And after Friday night's Union County Tournament championship game, that statement has a lot of merit.
Top-seeded Cranford scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to overcome a game-long deficit and held on for a 2-1 victory over third-seeded Gov. Livingston in the 47th UCT final at Kean University in Union.
The title is the third straight for Cranford, ranked No. 15 in the state, which has now won eight crowns. Gov. Livingston (17-6) was appearing in its second final in three seasons and seeking its first county title since 2017. The Lady Highlanders appeared in every final from 2011 through '17, winning four championships.
The two rivals split their two regular season games this season.
Cranford won, 2-0, in Berkeley Heights on April 18 and Gov. Livingston returned the favor, earning a 7-5 decision in Cranford on May 10. The Lady Cougars had outscored their three UCT opponents by a total score of, 30-0.
Gov. Livingston, however, snapped that streak in the top of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead.
"We came out in the first and set the momentum right out the gate." said Gov. Livingston head coach Erin Lanigan. "Chelsea Kiesewetter had a leadoff single to left field, stole second and took third on a single by Anna Popola. Elise Faxon then scored Kiesewetter with a sac fly."
Katie DeBello, who scattered five hits with one strikeout and no walks, held a Cranford team averaging 6.96 runs per game scoreless until the sixth.
Junior Sophia DeMarco hit a solo home run - her 13th of the season - and Sabrina Prata drove in Maddy DeLong to provide Cranford with its slim lead.
"Katie DeBello was great through all six innings allowing just five hits and one earned run," said Lanigan. "It was a great game. There were 21 teams in the county, and we were the last two standing, which is something to be proud of.
"Of course, we're upset we lost; it's gut-wrenching to lose a game you had the lead the entire way through. I also think a key takeaway from not just tonight but all three of our matchups with Cranford this year is that my girls proved to everyone that they can hang with a top 20 team."
Gov. Livingston was seeded fourth for the upcoming NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 tournament and will play host to 13th-seeded Monmouth in a first-round game on Tuesday, May 23.
A win there, and the Lady Highlanders would play host to either fifth-seeded Johnson or 12th-seeded Delaware Valley in a sectional quarterfinal on Friday, May 26.
The sectional semifinals are slated for Wednesday, May 31 with the finals set for Saturday, June 3.
"We're going to reset and turn the page," said Lanigan. "And we'll look to make a good run in the state tournament starting Tuesday."
Author : Chris Orlando
Source Url :https://www.tapinto.net/towns/berkeley-heights/sections/sports/articles/gov-livingston-suffers-hard-fought-2-1-loss-to-cranford-in-uct-softball-final
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