Jordan Pettenger was surprised to get a second chance.
In a scoreless game that had moved into the middle innings – with a pair of runners in scoring position – it appeared Pettenger had popped up in foul territory to come up snake eyes for her Marauders team.
But a fielding miscue by Passaic Tech gave the senior catcher new life at the dish, and she took full advantage of it.
Pettenger’s two-RBI single broke the ice for Mount Olive in the bottom of the fourth, and that opened the floodgates for the Marauders. Her teammates followed it up an eight spot in the fifth inning to vault sixth-seeded Mount Olive to a 10-0 victory over No. 11 seed Passaic Tech in the opening round of the NJSIAA Section 1, Group 4 tournament in Flanders.
The Marauders, now 13-9 on the season, will travel to third-seeded Fair Lawn on Friday afternoon. The Bulldogs finished their season at an even .500 with a 12-12 mark.
On that breakthrough play to make it 2-0, Pettenger’s single brought home Morgan Joseph and Carly Smith, who were both hit by a pitch and moved up a base on a wild pitch.
“We needed a hit there, and I thought I was out until coach (Bill Romano) said I have another chance,” Pettenger said. “I got a pitch that was good to hit and I was able to get good contact on it.”
The Marauders offense got going into high gear the following inning to wrap up the festivities.
Two walks to Monique Asprer and Sam Popo, followed by Cierra Popo reaching on an error set the table by loading the bases with no one out.
Bri Segnello and Joseph would then follow with a single each, with the latter’s base hit scoring both Popo sisters to make it 5-0.
Following a Smith single to bring in Joseph, Mount Olive pitcher Becky Palmisano got up and whacked a two-run homer over the left field wall, breaking the game open and putting the winners ahead by seven.
Palmisano was solid in the circle for Mount Olive, only surrendering three hits while striking out eight batters in five innings of shutout ball.
“Becky threw the ball really well today, and she got around on a good pitch to hit. When she is pitching at her best, we can be a tough team to play,” said Romano of his pitcher.
After scoring two more unearned runs, Mount Olive would seal its victory when a Sam Popo bunt single for a hit scored Pettenger – who had reached on a double – thus ending the game with one out in the fifth.
One major bright spot for Passaic Tech was senior shortstop Daniela Vidal. The Bloomfield College-bound shortstop had an exceptional day at the dish for the Bulldogs, banging two balls off the center field fence for a single and double, respectively.
Adrianna Hortas added the other single for the Passaic County runners-up.
Now making the long ride to Fair Lawn, the two-time defending champion Marauders will look to keep its title defense alive at the end of the week.
“I was the designated player when we won two years ago,” Pettenger said. “Even though we didn’t have a chance to play a season last year, I still think everyone is coming for us.”
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