May 11, 2016
By Rich Barton
NJS.com Staff Writer
PARAMUS – Even though Mahwah advanced in the Bergen County Tournament with a first-round victory over Ridgefield over the weekend, head coach Craig Nielsen was not particularly pleased. Pitching and defense have been staples of the Thunderbirds’ success this season, but to make a legitimate run at a county or state sectional title or both, Nielsen made it clear to his players that the bats also had to do their part and swinging defensively will lead to early exits. Facing red-hot Paramus, the Thunderbirds let their coach know that they got the message loud and clear.
Mahwah drove in seven of its eight runs with two-out hits with the big one coming from Brenna Forgette. Her two-run double broke the game open en route to an 8-1 win on Tuesday afternoon at Paramus High School.
“It’s important to set the tempo. If one person hits, everyone else starts to hit too,” said Forgette.
The T-Birds set the tone with a first-inning run. Danielle Altamuro drew a walk and Lexi Corra drove her home with a double. Paramus had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the second inning with a runner on third and one out. Mahwah pitcher Emily August struck out the next batter and left field Maddie Kolich made a nice running catch near the foul line to end the threat.
After tacking on a run in the third inning on an RBI single by Stephanie Kontomos, Mahwah busted out for three runs in the fourth. An error extended the inning and allowed No. 9 batter Morgan Morris to line a shot back up the middle off the second base bag to bring home a run. That brought Forgette up to bat with runners on the corners. After doubling to left-center in her previous at-bat. Forgette doubled her efforts, literally. She lined another fastball to the exact same spot off the base of the wall in left-center to bring home Danielle Fisher and Morris for a 5-0 lead.
“Their pitcher threw inside to me the first few at-bats, so I was looking for something inside again,” added Forgette. “I got the pitch and drove it into the gap. We know we have to come out strong every game and try to put up as many runs as we can.”
It was all the run support August needed. While Paramus did hit the ball hard several times against her, she was able to bear down whenever the Spartans reached base to lift Mahwah, who has now won six of its past seven games with its lone setback being a 1-0 loss to Ridgewood, the top seed in the Bergen County Tournament.
“We got a lot of big hits with two outs and that gave me a lot of confidence to make good pitches,” said August. “I know with the way we were hitting today that I could relax and just pitch. I know the defense would make all the plays behind me and that gives me even more confidence.”
August allowed six hits, walked two with 10 K’s to get the win for Mahwah (13-5). Altamuro reached base in four of her five plate appearances, scoring twice and driving in a run. Emily Pryor also scored twice and drove in a run.
Jessie Joy led the way offensively for Paramus (9-9), collecting three hits in four at-bats. Antonia Vainieri drove in the lone run with an RBI groundout in the fourth inning. The Spartans will face another tough opponent when they take on Ridgewood in the Round of 16 in the Bergen County Tournament on Saturday.
Mahwah will also take part in the BCT’s Round of 16 on Saturday. As the No. 6 seed, the Thunderbirds will take on No. 11 seed Fair Lawn. Mahwah handled Fair Lawn easily in a regular-season meeting but Nielsen knows the stakes are much higher this time around.
“We got off to a good start with five first-inning runs when we played Fair Lawn the first time, we can’t rely on that this time,” said Nielsen. “We know Fair Lawn is a much better than they were a few weeks ago but we feel like we’re getting better as well. I think we hit the ball really well today and we did a great job of getting runners home with two outs. Even though we’re a young team, we’ve showed a lot of maturity and I hope that continues as we move forward.”
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