|VIDEO: Butler blanks Roselle Park to advance to state final|
Aleks Apkarian hit a home run and drove in three runs, while Larissa Spellman put forth another dominant pitching effort, as the Butler softball team advanced to the Group I state final. The Bulldogs shut out Roselle Park in the semifinal at Caldwell University, 4-0.
Spellman, despite what she considered a sub-par effort, struck out 16 batters while firing a two-hitter. Spellman did walk four, but only once did Roselle Park have multiple baserunners in an inning.
Apkarian knocked in a run with a groundout, then drilled a solo homer in the sixth inning to put Butler ahead 3-0. The senior shortstop then singled in the Bulldogs' final run in the top of the seventh.
Sam Beck knocked home Butler's first run with an RBI groundout in the second inning. Melissa Konopinski went 2-for-3 with a triple and scored a run. Seven different Bulldogs had hits as Butler totalled nine for the game.
Roselle Park, which won the North 2, Group I title as a seventh seed, got singles from Merissa Gilic and Samantha Graves. Madison Hummel struck out four batters for the Panthers, who finish the season at 19-13.
Butler improves to 28-2. The Bulldogs, ranked #3 in the state, will face New Egypt in the Group I state final on Saturday at Kean University; that will be a rematch of the 2014 final, which New Egypt won 1-0.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school girls' softball state tournament semifinal game, click play in the box at left.