|VIDEO: Higgins, Ridgewood blank Morris Knolls for sectional title|
In the sectional final, Ridgewood relied on the same formula, great pitching and stellar defense, that carried them all season. The Maroons also added an extra ingredient--revenge--as they defeated Morris Knolls 2-0 to win the North 1, Group IV title.
Lisa Higgins fired her fourth straight shutout in the state playoffs, a three-hitter. The junior struck out six batters and allowed just one walk. In the four playoff games, Higgins allowed only five hits total and had two no-hitters.
As usual, Higgins was backed by strong defense. Ridgewood committed no errors and made a couple of diving catches. Morris Knolls never advanced a runner past second base in the game.
Morris Knolls pitcher Brooke Wiarda was also strong, allowing just four hits in a complete-game effort. But the Golden Eagles were undone by a couple of defensive miscues in the bottom of the fourth inning.
With two out and nobody on, Emelie Morse reached second base on a dropped fly ball. The next hitter, Rachel Pizzuti, then drove a shot to the fence in right-center field for an RBI double to put the Maroons ahead. Ridgewood got a second run on an infield error that permitted Pizzuti's courtesy runner to cross the plate.
Morris Knolls, the second seed, finishes its season at 24-7.
Ridgewood improves to 25-4 and captures its first sectional title since 2009. The Maroons were knocked out of the state tournament by Morris Knolls in 2011, 2013 and 2014, making this victory even sweeter.
Next up, Ridgewood meets Bridgewater-Raritan in the Group IV state semifinals.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school girls' softball state sectional final, click play in the box at left.