Senior pitcher Danielle Roesing continued her sensational final season by striking out 13 batters and Jessie Koerner and Kim Alfonso delivered clutch run-scoring singles in the top of the eighth inning, giving the Secaucus High School softball team a 4-2 victory over North Bergen Saturday at New Jersey City University’s Thomas A. Gerrity Athletic Complex.
With the victory, the Patriots (20-6) captured their first-ever Hudson County Tournament title.
The Patriots jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the top-seeded and heavily favored Bruins in the top of the second inning, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Senior Ariana Simon and sophomore Kaitlin Schlemm each drove in a run, giving Roesing some early breathing room.
North Bergen, the defending county champions, came right back and scored a single run in the bottom of the third when Alize Sarmiento singled and scored on a throwing error, slicing the lead in half at 2-1.
Roesing was in complete control from the third through sixth innings, retiring every batter she faced, including six via strikeout.
The game remained that way until the bottom of the seventh inning, when the Bruins (19-5) scored the tying run, giving the defending champs some new life. Sarmiento delivered in the clutch, slapping a two-out single to right field, scoring Christina Otero with the tying run.
The Patriots were one out away from clinching the title and the Bruins delayed the victory celebration. The game was tied at 2-2, going into extra innings.
“Today, we’re the best.” – Cheryl Bott
“But I told them that we had the top of the order coming up,” said Secaucus’ long-time head softball coach Cherryl Bott. “I told them we could do it because we had been through that kind of pressure before.”
Sophomore Kendall Caruso, who has been the lynchpin of the Patriots’ attack in recent weeks, drew a walk against North Bergen’s ace left-hander Jessica Feria to lead off the eighth inning. Koerner, the Patriots’ standout catcher, delivered what stood to be the game-winning run with her third hit of the game, a solid single to right field that scored Caruso.
For good measure, the Patriots scored again, when Alfonso’s single brought in Julia McClure for a 4-2 lead.
“That’s some testament about these kids,” Bott said. “Never once did I feel that they sensed any pressure.”
And that was enough for Roesing, who was not about to let the two-run lead slip away. Even when the Bruins got runners on base to give them a sense of hope, Roesing shut the door, getting a strikeout and a pop out to end the game and begin the victory celebration.
“When they tied the game, I was confident that we were going to get some more runs and more hits,” said Roesing, the latest in a long line of talented athletes from the Roesing family.
Older sister Cory was a former Hudson Reporter Female Athlete of the Year and older brothers Eddie and Bobby were great multi-sport athletes at Secaucus as well. Danielle also has younger brother Sean, a junior football player and wrestler, at the school.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, beating a team like North Bergen,” said Danielle Roesing, who scattered five hits in earning the victory. “But we also knew what we had to do.”
For Bott, getting the first county championship was special. In 2010, the Patriots reached the final, but were defeated by High Tech, 20-8. Five current Secaucus seniors were freshmen on that team that lost the county title.
Before then, Secaucus never had a chance to compete for a Hudson County championship, because the Patriots competed in the old Bergen County Scholastic League and the county titles were reserved for those who competed in the old Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Coviello and Seglio Divisions.
The old leagues were dissolved in 2009. Once the Hudson County officials decided to open the door to the other Hudson County schools that didn’t play in the HCIAA to compete in the county tournament, it gave Secaucus a shot.
“This says that we can play with anyone, but until you win, no one says that,” Bott said. “Today, we’re the best.”
“It feels great,” Roesing said. “I’m totally speechless.”