Kylie McLaughlin didn’t get the name Seattle Slew without performing like the stud player she has been, since breaking into the starting lineup as a sophomore at Livingston High.
Now, as the senior’s high school career begins to wind down, McLaughlin knows it’s time for her team to break out of its recent doldrums.
In a North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 quarterfinal today, Slew was a force at the plate, on the base paths, and on defense as Livingston rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to beat an aggressive Bloomfield team, 6-3, at the Stable in Livingston.
Livingston (19-5) will advance to the sectional semifinals, as it attempts to win a third straight state title next Tuesday. Meanwhile, it hopes to get a few games in before next Tuesday, as the rust from being off the past five days was evident early on against Bloomfield.
“We had fallen behind (4-0) in the first round of the states (against Wayne Valley last week),” said McLaughlin. “So, we felt confident we could come back today against Bl0omfield, and I think this game did a lot for us. We were a little down after losing to Cedar Grove (in the county quarterfinals) and later to Nutley (in a SEC game). We’re not used to that, but now, we’re going for a state championship and if you gave me the choice of winning one title, it’s definitely the states.”
McLaughlin, who was 3-for-4 on the day, got Livingston on the board in the first inning when she singled and later scored. Bloomfield appeared to have command early on, but when Livingston pulled off a double play in the third inning, the momentum clearly turned in the Lancers favor.
And when Slew reached on a clean single in the third, she may have set a record for the quickest score. After reaching on a single, she actually came around to score, on a bunt by Marina Lombardi.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done that before,” McLaughlin said with a laugh. “I just took off, saw an opening and kept running. Coach (Jason Daily) waved me around and I ended up scoring.”
Later, McLaughlin made a diving stop at second base on a hard grounder and threw to first for the out which ended the sixth inning. In her fourth at-bat, she lined out to third, but admitted that might have been the hardest hit ball she’s clubbed all season.
Livingston also got a good game from Alexa Altchek, who was 2-for-3 and drove in a pair, Yinka Fasehun, who had a big triple which set up a run and Ana Chambers, who doubled and drove in a run.
Winning pitcher Sami Passeri shook off some early struggles to pitch very well. The junior struck out 10, walked three, and scattered four hits.
Daily was happy with the win, but noted that a lot of work needs to get done.
“We can be better, no question,” said Daily. “It’s good to move on, and give Bloomfield credit for playing real well today. Their pitcher (Samantha Corio) was excellent. Hopefully, we can get some games in before our next state game and work through some things.”
Seattle Slew agreed.
“We’ve been dealing with a few things as a team,” she said. “But I think this game will help us today. Winning a state title is what’s left this season, and it’s right there for us.”