Sammi Rothenberger knows the time is starting to wind down on her fantastic athletic career at Livingston High.
She’s going to finish with 12 varsity letters over four years, covering outstanding efforts in soccer, basketball and softball. And it’s clear that this spring, the William Paterson-bound shortstop wants to finish a softball season with the incredible success that has come Livingston’s way over the past two years.
Rothenberger (AKA Riva Ridge) had another excellent day at the ball park, as she homered in the second inning and played stellar defense to lead Livingston, No. 1 in the FMTC Top 10, past Nutley, 10-2, in Nutley.
In addition to her dominance at the plate, Rothenberger teamed up on two double plays in the field. She made an excellent swipe of a hard grounder and threw to second baseman Kylie McLaughlin, who avoided a sliding base runner and threw to first baseman Ana Chambers for a 6-4-3 gem.
Two innings later, when a hard grounder bounced toward reserve second baseman Blake Saperstein, Riva Ridge never wavered.
“Two, two,” she shouted, meaning let’s go for the double play, and Saperstein obliged, throwing to Rothenberger for the force at second and then a blazing throw back to first completed the DP.
“We practice it all the time,” said Rothenberger. “We’re always trying to be aggressive in the field and get that lead runner.”
As for her homer in the second, a long blast over the centerfield fence, Riva Ridge just smiled and said “I knew it was gone.”
The Lancers got another solid game from Katie Horiuchi at the plate, too, against Nutley today. She has yet to make an out in six official at bats, covering two games, including a pair of walks, and a long double in today’s game that hit the top of the centerfield fence.
Horiuchi, a senior, has missed most of the season with a back injury, but she’s rounding into game shape now. She’s been the DP the past two days, but hopes to be back at third base soon.
“I’m feeling good,” Horiuchi said. “Coach (Jason Daily) wants me to take it slowly, and that’s good. I’m looking forward to playing the field, too.”
Livingston (15-3) will take on West Orange on May 7, then prepare for the Essex County Tournament quarterfinals on Saturday, May 9, when the top-seeded and two-time defending champions take on Cedar Grove at 11 a.m.
With the loss, Nutley fell to 10-9. The Raiders are seeded fourth in the ECT and could play Livingston twice next week. The teams are slated to meet in a SEC game on May 14, at Livingston, and would meet in the semifinals on May 16, at Ivy Hill Park, if both schools win their quarterfinal game this Saturday.