|VIDEO: IHA walks off a champion with win over Notre Dame|
As one of New Jersey's elite softball programs, Immaculate Heart Academy is used to winning championships. But the Blue Eagles' latest state title was both dramatic and surprising.
Ally Dudek delivered a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning to give IHA a 1-0 win over Notre Dame in the Non-Public A state final at Kean University. Dudek's hit brought home Reagan Jones, who started the rally with a bunt single.
Olivia Sprofera fired a four-hit shutout for the Blue Eagles. While the sophomore lefty didn't match her perfect game from the North sectional final, she stifled a strong-hitting Notre Dame squad. Sprofera struck out nine while walking two.
It's the 10th state title for IHA, the most of any school. But this is one of the most unlikely championships for the Blue Eagles. This year's squad had no seniors, and suffered a few uncharacteristic bumps in the road during the season. In fact, IHA was ranked behind three other teams in the Non-Public A bracket coming into the state playoffs, including Notre Dame.
The Irish had a chance to be ranked #1 in the state with a win in this game. But Notre Dame never advanced a runner past second base against Sprofera.
Pitcher Angela Giampolo kept IHA off balance for much of the game, allowing just two hits before the seventh inning. She was helped by a tremendous defensive play by second baseman Brighid Douglas in the second inning that might have saved a run.
Notre Dame concludes the season at 28-3.
IHA finishes 31-3 and will be a team to be reckoned with in 2016.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school girls' softball state tournament final, click play in the box at left.