Jenna Cooper retired the first 10 batters she faced as Emerson took control early in a 8-2 win over previously unbeaten Hasbrouck Heights at the EDSAF Tournament on Saturday.
EMERSON – After poor weather conditions and limited time on the field hampered the start of the season for Emerson, the Cavos were greeted with a gorgeous, sunny day for the EDSAF Tournament, the annual fundraising event that always seems to bring out the best in the host program.
Facing a Hasbrouck Heights team that has been one of the biggest surprises in North Jersey thus far, the Cavos played well in all phases of the game and had fun catching a glimpse of what they could potentially do later in the season.
Karly Manning got the big hit with her three-run double to open the scoring. Right-hander Jenna Cooper kept the Aviators off-balance at the plate and she leaned on her defense, which was more than up to the task. Left fielder Shannon Coyle threw out a runner at the plate for the game’s final out to cap an outstanding defensive performance by Emerson in an 8-2 triumph over previously undefeated Hasbrouck Heights at Barbara Barlow Field.
“The weather was great and the field was in perfect condition. Between that and the way our defense played it gave me a boost in the circle,” said Cooper. “It’s a bunch of little things that came together. Karly’s hit, Alyssa’s defense at third, those plays really pumped us up and we kept up the intensity through the entire game.”
Emerson took control in the bottom half of the second inning. Alyssa Mattera got things started with a leadoff single and Coyle followed with a base hit two batters later before a walk loaded the bases. With two outs, Manning came up to the plate and delivered in a big spot. She went with an outside rise ball and lined it into right-center to clear the bases. Nicole Graham followed with a base hit to plate Manning and give Emerson a 4-0 lead.
Olivia Marinelli struck out 8 for Hasbrouck Heights, which is now 5-1 on the season.
“I knew the rise was coming and I had to be ready for it,” said Manning, a sophomore centerfielder. “With the bases loaded I had to get a hit and drive some runs home. I made an effort to sit back on the ball and just go with the pitch.”
Coming into this game, Cooper had given up a first-inning run in four of her seven starts this season. Saturday was not one of those days as the senior set the tone right from the first batter. Cooper got ahead in the count consistently and varied her spots, retiring 10 straight batters to start the game and not allowing a runner past first base until the seventh inning. She also got plenty of her help from her defense, highlighted by a spectacular diving catch in foul territory by Mattera, the third baseman, on a popped up bunt.
The Cavos broke the game open in the fifth by tacking on three more runs. Sammi DeStefano tripled to bring home a run and Mattera added a two-run double to make it 7-0.
Hasbrouck Heights averted a shutout with two outs in the seventh when Elizabeth Connelly drew a bases-loaded walk. Autumn Thorpe followed with a base hit to left field scoring Erin Owens. A second run tried to come around and score but Coyle was having none of that. She fielded the ball cleanly and threw a perfect strike to the plate with catcher Erin Plunkett slapping on the tag for the final out of the game.
Karly Manning's three-run double to open the scoring for Emerson, which improved to 6-2 heading into a busy week.
Cooper pitched a six-hitter with two walks and two strikeouts for Emerson (6-2). Graham went with 3-for- 3 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. Manning, DeStefano, and Cooper each added a pair of hits.
Thorpe was the lone player for Hasbrouck Heights (5-1) with two hits. Olivia Marinelli took the loss, walking four and striking out nine.
The win is a nice confidence boost heading into a big week for Emerson. The Cavos will face Northern Highlands on Sunday morning followed by a game, the Cavos’ fourth in as many days, against Waldwick for sole possession of first place in the NJIC-Patriot Division before a tilt on Wednesday against Bergen Tech, which beat defending Group 2 state champion Ramsey last week.
“We came into this game excited and we wanted to keep the momentum we’ve had in the past week going,” added Manning. “This was a game we wanted to win not just for us but for Ari (Solimando, whom the EDSAF Tournament benefits). We want to win the league and make runs in both the counties and states. This is how we have to play to prove that we can do all of that. It was our best team effort of the season. We played together and we played really well.”