Olivia Marinelli was lights out in the circle, allowing just two hits with a season-high 17 strikeouts as Hasbrouck Heights stayed unbeaten with a 7-0 win over Wood-Ridge.
HASBROUCK HEIGHTS – The relationship between a pitcher and catcher is the most important of any two players on the softball diamond. Both have to be totally in sync with one another if their team has any hopes of winning championships. Luckily for Hasbrouck Heights, they possess one of the top battery combinations in all of North Jersey with both players being in the same household. Behind the duo, the Aviators have gotten off to a torrid start and looked to keep that going against rival Wood-Ridge on Wednesday.
Junior catcher Alexa Marinelli’s two-run single in the first inning provided all the run support her sister needed. Olivia Marinelli was lights out in the circle, allowing just two hits with a season-high 17 strikeouts as Hasbrouck Heights scored all of its runs in the first two innings to stay unbeaten with a 7-0 win over Wood-Ridge at Hasbrouck Heights High School.
“She’s probably gotten so many extra outs for me and we definitely have a special bond on and off the field,” said Olivia Marinelli, a senior right-hander.
Wood-Ridge has been one of the Bergen County’s most pleasant surprises and came in looking to pull the upset. But with a steady tailwind behind her, the already hard-throwing Marinelli had even more pop to her pitches. Olivia was virtually untouchable right from the game’s first pitch. She struck out eight of the first nine batters she faced.
Emma Baker make a play for Wood-Ridge, which is off to a good start at 6-3 on the season.
In the bottom half of the first, Autumn Thorpe led of with a single then beat a throw to second on a ground ball to put runners at first and second with nobody out. After Olivia Marinelli’s groundout moved the runners into scoring position her sister made sure she brought them home. Alexa Marinelli did just that by lining a single to right-center to quickly stake the Aviators to a lead before an outfield error allowed Alexa to score and make it 3-0.
“I just wanted to make good contact and get those runners home,” said Alexa Marinelli. “It was important to score some runs early and get some momentum. After the first two runners got on base and Olivia moved them up that I had a chance to do something positive and get Olivia a lead to work with.”
The Aviators kept the hot bats going in the second inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Olivia Marinelli helped her own cause with a two-run single. Two batters later, Julia Campen delivered the Aviators’ only extra-base hit of the game. Her double brought home two more runs to put Hasbrouck Heights firmly in control with a 7-0 lead after two innings.
“It’s a weight lifted off my shoulders knowing that my team can hit and plays really good defensively,” said Olivia Marinelli. “It allows me to focus on just hitting my spots. Alexa definitely makes me a better pitcher and she’s gotten so many extra outs for me with the way she frames pitches.”
Junior catcher Alexa Marinelli’s two-run single in the first inning provided all the run support her sister needed.
Wood-Ridge had just one runner reach third base all game. She drew a leadoff walk and was on third with two outs when Olivia Marinelli kept the shutout intact with a inning-ending strikeout. Marinelli lost her no-hit bid with one out in the fifth on a single by Blue Devils’ catcher Samantha Perez. But that along with a double from Bella Iacovino were just blips in an otherwise dominant performance in the circle.
Olivia Marinelli’s 17 strikeouts were the second highest single-game total she has had in her four-year varsity career for Hasbrouck Heights (8-0). Autumn Thorpe and Kimmy Halpin both singled and scored twice to pace the offense.
After a rough start, sophomore left-hander Brooke Biamonte settled down in the circle for Wood-Ridge (6-3). She allowed just one hit over her final five innings of work.
The schedule does not get any easier for the Aviators. They come right back today to play Pequannock before a tough game against Bergen Tech on Saturday and a showdown next week against defending Tournament of Champions finalist Immaculate Conception. This team would have it no other way though as they strive to be among the best teams not just in Bergen County but in the entire state.
“It’s definitely a fun time to be on this team because we play some really strong teams and we’re excited to prove ourselves,” said Alexa Marinelli. “This is a really close team and we only lost one senior from last year. We always have each other’s backs and we love the challenges that we have coming up.”