|VIDEO: Northern Highlands tops IHA to win Bergen County title|
Northern Highlands had a long time to wait to play the Bergen County softball final. Apparently, the Highlanders put their time to good use.
Scoring four runs in the opening inning, and shutting down Immaculate Heart Academy after a sloppy defensive start, Northern Highlands won 6-2 to earn its first-ever county championship. Pitcher Katie Duncan allowed just three hits as she slowed the dangerous IHA offense.
Duncan also had a key hit for Highlands, a two-run double that highlighted the first-run rally. Caroline Lovisolo also drove in a run as the Highlanders took a stunning 4-0 lead.
IHA got right back in the game, taking advantage of three Highlander errors to cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the first. Duncan snagged a line drive for the final out of the inning that otherwise might have tied the game.
From that point on, however, Duncan allowed just three more baserunners. Northern Highlands tightened up its defense, with no further errors. Shortstop Christine Griffith made several sharp plays, especially in starting a 6-4-3 double play in the sixth inning.
Northern Highlands added to its lead in the second on an RBI double by Nicole Gattoni. In the sixth, the Highlanders brought home another insurance run when Griffith smacked a double to the left-field fence.
The Highlanders were just the sixth seed in the county tournament, but played impressively throughout the event. After being knocked out early from the state tournament, Northern Highlands went a week without a game leading into the finals at Ramapo High School, but showed few signs of rust.
Northern Highlands ends the season at 24-4.
IHA, the top seed in the county tournament, is now 29-3 after falling in the Bergen final for the second straight year. But the Blue Eagles remain alive in the states and will go for a sectional title Tuesday when they take on Pope John.
For sports video highlights of this Bergen County high school girls' softball tournament final game, click play in the box at left.