|VIDEO: West Essex slips by Sparta to win sectional title|
Another terrific pitching performance by Sami Huetter and one big hit lifted the West Essex softball team to a sectional championship. Huetter fired a five-hit shutout as the Knights edged Sparta, 2-0, to take the North 1, Group III title.
Bridget Betley's single in the fifth inning plated the only two runs of the game. Betley came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs, and drove the first pitch into right field to bring home Amanda Garofalo and Julia Vardiman.
Huetter struck out five batters while walking two in her fourth consecutive shutout in the state playoffs. The junior escaped a jam in the top of the fourth when she stranded Sparta baserunners at second and third base.
Sparta's sophomore pitcher, Paige Smith, allowed six hits and no walks while striking out three. The only two runs scored were unearned.
Anne Monroe had a pair of hits for the Spartans, who were the third seed in the section and had exploded for 19 runs in the semifinal against West Milford. Sparta finishes the season 19-5.
West Essex, the top seed, won its first sectional title in six seasons to go along with its Essex County Tournament and league crowns. Now the Knights, who are 26-2, will face Middletown South in a the Group III semifinals in a showdown of two of the top five softball teams in New Jersey.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school girls' softball state tournament sectional final, click play in the box at left.