For the third time in the last five seasons, Livingston has won the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 state sectional championship, defeating Morris Knolls, 13-3, in Denville.
Head coach Jason Daily’s team will take on Watchung Hills in a Group 4 semifinal on June 7, at Montclair State University, starting at 5 p.m. Livingston lost a 2-1 decision to Watchung Hills in the 2013 Group 4 semi, after, ironically, defeating Morris Knolls, 11-3, in the sectional final.
It was the fourth straight win, all in the state tourney, and eighth win in the last 10 games for the Lancers. And once again, as was the case in the three previous state wins, the Lancers had outstanding pitching from Sydney (Syd The Kid) McCormack, timely hitting and tremendous defense.
“We’re really coming around,” said Daily, who has been the head coach at Livingston since 2001. “We’re definitely hitting our stride. The kids have become so close-knit, they’re confident and having fun.”
Livingston (17-11) had been around the .500 mark for most of the season.
“Up until the states, we hadn’t won more than two in a row all season,” said Daily. “We had seen signs of this team coming around, but we could never get it going. Right now, we’re playing well, and looking forward to the next game.”
Livingston scored seven times in the third inning to take control.
“We had nine straight batters get on base, and that opened it up for us,” said Daily. “Kate Sheehan had a big two-run double and Nina Petrillo pulled off a huge squeeze bunt, with two outs, to keep the rally going.”
Livingston’s defense has been stellar all season long.
“We knew we had the ability,” said Daily. “And now, it’s coming around.”
And McCormack’s effort has been outstanding, including two shutouts in the state tournament.
“She’s been tremendous,” said Daily of Syd The Kid.
Livingston’s infield defense, made up of all seniors, features first baseman Allie Royce, second baseman Allie Beinhacker, shortstop Blake Saperstein and Petrillo at third. Sophomore Emma Cooney has been tremendous behind the plate, while the outfield play of Jaclyn Williamson, Ashley Reuter, Julia Viggiano and Jill Gibbon continues to excel. Sheehan and Danielle Rosenblum have been the team’s designated hitters.
It’s been quite a run for Livingston.
“This will be our third Group 4 semifinal (since 2012),” said Daily. “One year, we were 28-0 and lost. This year, we have 11 losses. But it doesn’t matter. We’re here, and these kids are excited, and so am I.”