With the tying runs on base, Ramsey's Victoria Sebastian got a strikeout to close out Ramsey's 7-5 win over Immaculate Conception in the semifinals of the Bergen County Tournament on Saturday.
MONTVALE – Ramsey is not the No. 1 seed in the Bergen County Softball Tournament, but it is the defending champion and it has been the most dominant softball team in the county over the past month. The Rams carried a 19-game winning streak into Saturday’s semifinal round and have allowed only three runs total in the last 12 of those wins. However, with that torrid streak comes a down side. The Rams have not been truly tested in the past six weeks. With the most important games of the season coming up in the next few days the question was how Ramsey would deal with adversity when finally having to deal with it.
That scenario came to the surface against Immaculate Conception. Locked in a tie game heading into the sixth inning, the Rams went back to basics and used sheer hustle to come out on top. Victoria Sebastian busted it down the first-base line and reached on an error to allow her team to take the lead and her sister, Olivia, followed with a two-run single as the second-seeded Rams grabbed the lead and then held off a rally to top No. 3 seed Immaculate Conception on Saturday to earn a second straight berth in the Bergen County final.
“We knew Immaculate Conception was a good team and this would be a seven-inning game where we had to be totally focused the entire time,” said Olivia Sebastian. “We were going to face adversity today and we had to overcome it together.”
This game was a rematch of last year’s Bergen County final won by Ramsey by a score of 13-4. It looked like the Rams were up to their dominant ways again early. A pair of infield hits led to a two-run single by Kaitlin Houser. When Emma Cunningham stroked an RBI double an inning later Ramsey had a 3-0 lead, which usually spells curtains for its opponent.
Kayla Robert's two-run homer got IC to within 7-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Immaculate Conception showed its ability to bounce back throughout the contest. In the top of the third inning, A pair of errors mixed in with an RBI single by Faith Cammileri and a sac fly off the bat of Angela Lignelli allowed the Blue Wolves to knot the score at 3 and it remained that way until the bottom of the sixth when the Rams finally broke through against Immaculate Conception starter Caylee English.
With two on and two out Cunningham, No. 9 batter, chopped one down the third-base line. The third baseman held the ball thinking it would be called foul, but when Cunningham got out of the box quickly and the home plate umpire pointed his finger toward fair territory everybody was safe and the bases were loaded for one of the state’s most dangerous hitters, Victoria Sebastian.
English made a good pitch and got Sebastian to chop one towards second base, but with Cunningham running in front of the defender, the ball was briefly fumbled and Sebastian tumbled over first base with the go-ahead run scoring. Olivia Sebastian made it hurt even worse when, several pitches later, she roped a single to center scoring two more runs. On the play the relay back into the infield was also bobbled with Victoria Sebastian coming all the way around to score to make it 7-3.
“I was frustrated with my first few at-bats so once we got the lead I knew I had to get a hit,” added Olivia Sebastian. “I have great teammates and an unbelievable coach who believes in me. I had the confidence that I’d come through. This team loves playing together and we know that any one of these next few games could be our last so we’re giving it everything we have to keep it going.”
Olivia Sebastian had a big hit for Ramsey, which will take on Indian Hills in the county final on Monday.
Immaculate Conception (17-7) had one last chance in the top of the seventh and put a good scare into the Rams. After a leadoff single by Christina Braid, Kayla Robert hit a long fly ball to right field. Cunningham looked to make a nice catch but collided with the fence on the play with the ball popping out of her glove and over the fence for a two-run homer. The Blue Wolves then put the tying run on base, but Victoria Sebastian slammed the door shut with a game-ending strikeout .
The 20th straight win for the Rams put them in the Bergen County final for the second straight season. There the top two public school programs in Bergen County will square off as they face top-seeded Indian Hills on Monday at Mahwah High School with first pitch being at 12:00 P.M. Knowing that his team will only face adverse situations for the remainder of the season, Ramsey head coach Chris Caserta feels the way the Rams won this game will be a beneficial experience moving forward.
“Adversity is around the corner every game when you’re playing softball in late May and we weathered the storm today,” said Caserta. “Besides Olivia’s shot up the middle, we generated all of our runs on hustling and doing the little things you need to do to succeed at this level. We’re going to be seriously challenged on Monday, but we want that and we’re not going to shy away from the battle.”