Meeting for the first time in nearly six years, the April 25 contest between Bergen County softball powerhouses Ramsey and Immaculate Heart figured to have plenty of intensity.
The game lived up to that billing.
Led by junior Ryleigh White’s brilliant pitching and clutch hitting, IHA (11-0) remained unbeaten with a 5-0 win, in Washington Township. White pitched another complete-game shutout, striking out 12 and walking one while giving up 3 hits.
“We really wanted this game,” said White afterward. “Ramsey has a good team and we knew it would be a tough game. I thought we were focused throughout.”
White worked out of a second inning jam, thanks, in part, to a tremendous defensive play by shortstop Cara Kochakian. Ramsey had runners on first and second, with no outs. A hard hit ball went Kochakian’s way and the freshman made a nice play to her right, then threw to third for a key force out.
White would then work out of the inning with some key pitches.
“That was a big play, no doubt,” said IHA head coach Diana Fasano of Kochakian’s gem. “Cara not only made the play, but then knew to go to third and needed a good throw to get the out.”
Dubbed ‘C.K.’, Kochakian also got the job done on offense. With Cat Thomas and Gabby Park on base, with two outs, Kochakian lined a 2-strike pitch to right field, scoring a run, and when the ball was misplayed, a second run crossed and Kochakian ended up at third base, with a fired up Fasano waiting for her at the bag.
“I was really happy for Cara,” said Fasano, who’s usually pretty low-keyed while coaching in third base box. “For a freshman to come through, in a big moment like that, was good to see.”
RY AND C.K.: Junior pitcher Ryleigh White (right) and freshman shortstop Cara Kochakian after an IHA victory, at home, on April 25, against Ramsey. (Click on photo for larger image)
IHA added its final run in the sixth. Lindsay Gilchrist laced a hard single to start the frame and came around to score on a double by Park, another freshman who reached base three straight times in the game.
IHA and Ramsey last met on the softball diamond on May 18, 2013, in a county tournament game. Steph Thomas, the state’s all-time winningest pitcher and a junior that year, threw a shutout. Steph, the older sister to Cat Thomas, was at the game today.
“I remember that game,” said Steph of the 2013 game. “We rarely played Ramsey back then. I remember we used to scrimmage them right before the start of the season, and we usually lost, which, of course would drive (the late head coach) Anthony (LaRezza) crazy, and he’d really get on us afterward.”
Ramsey, which fell to 10-3, has won the previous two Bergen County championships and should get a high seed in its bid for a three-peat this year. There’s a good chance that IHA and Ramsey could play each other in about a month, this time for a county title.