Verona won its fifth straight game on April 26, with a 2-0 victory over Columbia, in a well-played game by both teams, in Verona.
The victory was Verona’s fifth straight after a 1-6 start, and the Hillbillies improved to .500, at 6-6. Columbia, which had won seven of its first eight, lost its second straight and is now 7-3.
The game featured an outstanding pitching duel between Verona’s Christina Colon and Catherine John, of Columbia. Colon, a junior, continued her streak of games with 10 or more strikeouts, with 13 K’s while walking two. She yielded just three hits.
John, a senior righty, pitched five no-hit innings, but in the third, a bunt single and 2-out double led to two unearned runs. Melanie Naeris reached on an error to start the frame and Cadden Pelfree beat out a bunt for a single. Renata Primmer sacrificed the runners to second and third, and after a strikeout, Kate Stanisci laced a ground rule double, which bounced over the centerfield fence, scoring both runners.
John fanned five and walked four, with three of those walks coming in the second inning after a new ball was put into play.
Hudson Hassler has become a stud player for Columbia. The sophomore shortstop had 2 more hits in today’s game against Verona.
“The ball was so slippery,” said the upbeat John, who had struck out the first two batters in the second before the new ball came in. “I couldn’t get a good grip, but was happy to get through that inning without allowing any runs.”
Verona coach Angela Salisbury knew playing Columbia would be a tough assignment.
“They’re a real good team,” said Salisbury. “Every time we play them, it’s a close game. We had three games with them last year and they were all decided by a run, or two.”
Columbia outhit Verona, 3-2. Hudson Hassler, a sophomore shortstop, was 2-for-3 while Sophie Goldman had a hit. Columbia’s biggest threat came in the sixth when Hassler and Goldman each singled to start the inning, but Colon worked out of the jam with two strikeouts, sandwiched between a fly to right field.
Columbia coach Cliff Smith wasn’t surprised that Colon was a tough competitor.
“Her riser is really tough to hit,” said Smith. “I thought we hit the ball pretty well, but Christina made some big pitches, too. This was a typical game between Verona and our kids. We know we’re capable of playing at a good level.”
Columbia and Verona were both Super Essex Conference Liberty Division rivals the past few years. This season, the matchup was a crossover game, as Verona moved up to the SEC’s American, but the teams could meet again, in the quarterfinal round of the Essex County Tournament, on May 12.