Falcon softball team falls to Edison in GMCT but advances in CJ II tournament

By: Carolyn M. Hartko
   The Monroe Township High School girls’ softball team took it on the chin when they got bounced from the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament by an 11-3 loss to Edison last Sunday.
   But the mojo was back on Tuesday when the Lady Falcons put together a solid game against a visiting Ridge side to advance in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II Tournament.
   A two-run double off the bat of Danielle Payne in the bottom of the second inning proved to be the deciding offensive play of the game. With the count 2-1, Payne connected to score teammates Laura Gibbons and Brittany Salvatore. Monroe went on to win 3-0, improving their record to 16-9.
   "It was just my pitch," the junior shortstop said. "I just took it, the way I like to hit."
   Payne made it 3-0 when she reached home herself courtesy of a grounder past second hit by Danielle Cocuzza in the fourth inning.
   "I think we hit really good today," Payne said. "And I think our defense is amazing. We’re really coming along with that."
   With only two errors against Ridge, Falcon head coach Jean Elias agreed that the defense was cooking on Tuesday.
   "Our intensity level was up," the coach said. "We haven’t always had that all year. Everybody seemed to be up, ready for the game."
   One person who was definitely up for the game was third baseman Alexa Cosentino. The sophomore helped shut the door on Ridge when she scooped up two ground balls in a row and made the throw to first for outs number one and two in the seventh inning. Cosentino has replaced starter Jackie Varacallo who’s out indefinitely with a sprained ankle.
   "Alexa’s been in there four or five games," Elias said. "And she’s just been doing a great job. She’s doing very well defensively, and she’s hitting the ball for us. We couldn’t have asked for a better replacement."
   Elias was also pleased that the girls are becoming more versatile when they do make contact with the ball.
   "We had a couple of girls take some pitches to right field," the coach added. "We have trouble with that sometimes, going with the outside pitch. Jen Rubin had a nice double to right field. And somebody had a nice line drive to the first baseman. So, we’re taking the ball to the right side and going with the pitches a lot better."
   Tuesday’s victory set up a game with an old rival. Seventh seeded Monroe traveled to second seeded Carteret for the second round of the CJ II tourney on Thursday (see www.cranburypress.com).
   Although Carteret moved up to the GMC’s White Division this spring, the Falcons and Ramblers had fought each other in the Blue Division for years. Like Monroe, Carteret got bumped from the GMCT on Sunday. So both teams went into Thursday’s game with something to prove.
   EXTRA INNINGS: Senior Kim Mackiewicz (11-7) went the distance for the Falcons against Ridge, scattering six hits and striking out three in the shutout.