Mendham's 12 year old girls softball all star team is playing in the
District 1 championship against Morristown National (AGAIN) tonight (Thursday, July 8th). The game is at 6:00 PM in Morristown at Veteran's Field (Hanover Road and Jane's Way). Please come out and support the team!
Saturday, July 3rd was a day to remember for the Mendham Little League 12-Year-Old Girls Softball All Stars, when they advanced to the District 1 championship with a 3-1 victory against rival Morristown National in the opening round of the double-elimination District 1 tournament.
Nikkey Skuraton, who celebrated her 13th birthday on Saturday, had two hits and scored two runs. Her second hit was an RBI single that snapped a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning, leading to the game-winning, two-run rally. In the field, Skuraton saved the day with a diving snare of a groundball that was headed up the middle for a certain two-run single that would have tied the game. All told, Skuraton made the plays that gave Mendham the triumph over Morristown National, allowing Mendham to move on in the winner's bracket and sending the defending District 1 champs to the loser's bracket.
Skuraton's first run came in the top of the sixth inning, giving the Mendham girls a brief 1-0 lead in what was a consummate pitching duel between Mendham's Irene Margiotta and Morristown National's Morgan Katona, who matched goose eggs for most of the afternoon. With two outs, Skuraton singled, stole second and raced all the way around to score on a throwing error. With the way the two pitchers were posting zeroes, it appeared to be enough to give Mendham the victory over the same team that defeated them three times a year ago, including one epic 16-inning game. However, Morristown National was undaunted and tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, sending the contest into extra innings.
Morristown catcher Lauren Champi -- who stopped two runs from scoring with sensational blocks of the plate, nailing two Mendham runners trying to score in the process -- led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and moved to second on a grounder. She got to third on a wild pitch and scored on Meg Donlin's sacrifice fly, tying the game at 1-1 and extending the game for a few more innings.
Mendham hurler Margiotta, a lanky right-hander was superb all day, limiting the defending district champs to just three singles over the eight innings, walking two and striking out 13. "I watch a lot of Major League games and I want to model myself after some of the (players) who remain calm under pressure," Margiotta said. She mentioned Yankee closer Mariano Rivera as a role model, as well as Team USA softball standout Monica Abbott.
The Mendham All-Stars mounted the game-winning rally in the eighth, again doing so with two outs. Sammie DiMaio, the smallest player on the field, laid down a perfect bunt for a hit and then quickly stole second. Up stepped the birthday girl. "I was thinking that I couldn't strike out there," Skuraton said. "I was trying to drive the ball. I put my bat on the ball and it just went." It sure did, sailing to right-center field, scoring DiMaio with the go-ahead run. Skuraton then scored on Emma Corbett's RBI single and Mendham had a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, Morristown National made one last attempt of a comeback, getting the tying run to second base with two outs. But Donlin's drive up the middle was snared by a Skuraton dive, who got up, made the throw to first in time and ended the contest. "It was a big-league play," head coach Lori Margiotta said. "She saved the game."
"Nikkey's a great player and I knew she was going to handle it," Irene Margiotta said. "We've been playing together and we've always been close. I knew that she was going to make that play. It's always a challenge with Morristown. By showing we could pull this off showed great determination."
I'm new to Little League and don't have the best understanding of how these things work, but apparently Morristown National would have to beat Mendham twice, while Mendham only needs to beat Morristown once more (tonight) to advance to the state tournament.
Go Mendham All-Stars!!