Ramsey has it all working in Bergen County quarterfinals

Ryan Henry had a home run, a double and three RBI for Ramsey, the reigning Bergen County champion that made it back to the semifinals with a 10-0 win over Paramus.

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP – Ramsey is the defending Bergen County champion with much of the team back that also won a state sectional title and made it all the way to the Group 2 state final. The Rams have won 18 straight games, they are shooting up the state wide rankings and they beat Paramus, 10-0, on Sunday in the much-delayed quarterfinal round of this year’s county tournament. There is an impressive resume, plenty of expectations and maybe even some pressure.

How does Ramsey head coach Chris Caserta deal with all of it?

“We don’t have to block out all of the other stuff because we never talk about it. We have thrown our hats in for both tournaments this year, the state and the county, and that is our focus right now. It’s the survive-and-advance mentality,” said Caserta. “The one thing we came into this season talking about was this is not 2017. All of that stuff that you just said was a different season, a different team even though we have some of the same faces. We have some new faces, too, and we have a whole new attitude.”

Ramsey lets its on-field production do its talking and the Rams had it going in all facets against Paramus. After walking the first hitter of the game on a 3-2 pitch, Victoria Sebastian allowed just one more base runner the rest of the way. Sebastian had thrown six one-hitters so far this year, but secured her first no-no with a dominant six-inning performance. The walk to Remschel, who was stranded at third base, and the pitch that hit Antonia Vainieri in the top of the second were the only blemishes on Sebastian’s pitching line (6 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP), the credit for which she quickly deflected to her teammates.

Paramus' Nikki Remschel led off the game by drawing a walk.

“That no-hitter would not have been possible without the plays we made in the field. There was a shot hit at my third baseman [Kaitlin Houser]. She chucks it over and then my first baseman [Dani] Dougherty makes a split and keeps her foot on the base. That was a great play by both of them,” said Sebastian, the junior left-hander. “My sister [Olivia] made a nice catch in centerfield and every one was making the plays when they got the chances. It was a team no-hitter.”

Victoria Sebastian is also Ramsey’s leadoff hitter and she drew a walk to open the bottom of the first inning to set up the run that put the Rams in front for good. Olivia Sebastian got down a sacrifice bunt in front of Ryan Henry (3-for-3, HR, 2B, 3 RBI), the senior catcher who kicked off her big day at the plate with an opposite field double off the right field fence to make it 1-0.

Ramsey (21-1), the No. 2 seed, broke the game open in the bottom of the second by batting around and scoring five times. The third Sebastian sister in the starting lineup, Bella (3-for-3, R, SB), started the rally with a single and a stolen base and that was followed by consecutive base hits by Gabby Marchisin (1-for-3, R, RBI) and Emma Cunningham (2-for-3, R), Olivia Sebastian (2-for-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI) whacked a two-run double and Houser drove in two more with a shot to the opposite field.

Henry homered to straight away centerfield to make it 7-0 in the bottom of the fourth and added an RBI single to make it 8-0 in the sixth. The only player left out of the hit parade to that point was designated player Katie Novak, who got her chance to join in with the bases loaded and the winning run at second base. Novak fell behind 0-2 before working the count back even and then unloading a two-run double that brought the game to its conclusion.

Ramsey junior Katie Novak ended the game with a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“I didn’t have a hit yet and, as a DH, that is not easy because you can’t do anything in the field to help your team. It’s only at bat where you can help out and I wanted to do my part,” said Novak, a right-handed hitting junior. “My coaches gave me a game plan going up there. They were hitting the outside corner on me for most of the game and I struggled with that. The pitch I hit was a little outside, but it started to come back over the plate and I knew I just had to take it right back up the middle. It felt good when I hit it.”

For Paramus, Sunday’s game was about more than trying to advance in the county tournament. The entire community is still trying to come to terms with the tragedy that struck last week when a school bus accident took the life of a beloved teacher and student from East Brook Middle School. The Spartans hung a ‘Paramus Strong’ banner on the fence next to the dugout and, at least for a couple of hours, tried to find some respite by focusing on a game of softball.

It was not the result that Paramus wanted, but it was part of the healing process.

“It has been a tough week, no doubt about that. We came out here to give it our best effort and we did that, but the better team won. That is the reigning county champ over there and they showed why,” said Paramus head coach Brian Hay. “I told the girls that we all have challenges in life and one of them is the challenge that our community is facing right now. We are going to get through it because, as our banner says, we are ‘Paramus Strong.’ We will continue to show up, we will continue to love each other and support each other and try to make a run in the state tournament.”