Hightstown softball defeated in state playoffs

By: Sean Moylan
   Unfortunately, this time around, there was no miracle comeback for the talented Hightstown High girls’ varsity softball team.
   In fact, with an 8-2 win in this past Tuesday’s Group III Central Jersey playoff opener, the Nottingham North Stars ended the Rams great run.
   But, as always, the Rams did not go quietly.
   Down 8-0 in the top of the seventh, Gabby Velasquez singled and moved to third base on Elyssa Swern’s subsequent double. Then Cara Montferrat, who is both a great hitter and softball player, knocked them both in with a base hit. But with two outs, that was all the offense Hightstown could muster versus Nottingham’s Kim Muri.
   "We just didn’t hit the ball until the last inning," noted Hightstown head softball coach Tim Kalick, whose Rams collected seven hits in the contest.
   Hightstown had started Erika Juricic in Monday’s home game versus Nottingham, which the North Stars won, 6-2. But wanting to give Nottingham a different look, Kalick sent freshman Erica Kurey to the circle for Tuesday’s playoff game. In the early going Kurey was very solid, allowing no runs in the first two frames. But in the bottom of the third a few Nottingham hits and Ram errors led to the North Stars putting together a six-run inning against the talented Hightstown freshman. Juricic pitched the last three innings and surrendered just two runs.
   Nonetheless, Kalick was very proud of his team and he commented, "I was happy to make states." In Monday’s game versus Nottingham, Montferrat blasted a solo homer for the Rams. The North Stars grabbed a 3-0 lead in the the top of the first and never looked back.
   "I wasn’t too worried about Monday’s game," said Kalick, who knew all along that Tuesday’s contest was the only one that mattered.
   Hightstown finished this season with a 10-12 record, which is the same exact record as it had last year. But this year, the Rams were a much better team as they made the playoffs and hit the stuffing out of the ball most of the season. They erased many huge deficits to come back and win many important games this season. They just made their big move a little too late on Tuesday afternoon. The Rams, however, should be good next year too as both of their pitchers are scheduled to return. And Montferrat, a sophomore, is a one-girl wrecking crew with the bat.