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MSDA Softball North Non Public A Champions!

No. 8 Mount St. Dominic powers past Holy Angels, claims elusive North, NP-A title

By Mike Gurnis | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
on May 31, 2018 4:05 PM, updated May 31, 2018 4:41 PM

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After two seasons of coming up short in the North, Non-Public A sectional title game, Mount St. Dominic finally claimed the title on Thursday afternoon.

The fourth seed Lions, No. 8 in the NJ.com top 20, came out swinging early and often and cruised to a 13-0 win over second seed Holy Angels in the North, Non-Public A sectional title game at Mike Sheppard Sr. Field at Ivy Hill Park in Newark.

The win sends the Lions to the Non-Public A title game on either Saturday or Sunday at Kean University against the South, N-P A champion, St. John Vianney. It will be the team’s first appearance in a state title game since the 2014 season, when it defeated Immaculata for the title.

“This means a lot because this is mine and Sarah Taffett‘s first time winning it,” senior pitcher Julianna Kocenski, who tossed a two-hit shutout, said. “We work really hard as a team all winter, from November we work our butts off to get here and it’s really exciting to be here and have had a win over IHA, and then this win. It’s such an amazing feeling that I can’t even put into words.”

Just two days prior, the Lions finally found a way to get past Immaculate Heart- the team which ended its season the last two years in the final- in the semifinals by way of a 3-1, 10-inning victory. The emotional win could lead to a letdown for some teams, especially one with a lineup full of underclassmen.

But thanks to the senior leadership of Kocenski and Taffett, the team came out focused and ready to play on Thursday. Kocenski’s two-hitter with seven strikeouts and one walk was key, but she also starred at the plate by going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI.

Taffett also had a solo inside-the-park home run in the third inning.

“We really pump each other up throughout the day,” Kocenski said. “Me and Sarah were texting the team (today) saying ‘get excited, this is the sectional final’ and then once we get here, all the confidence floods in. Once one person gets a hit, everybody gets a hit. Our leadership and our confidence on this team is fantastic.”

Although the game was originally scheduled to be played at Montclair State University, the game was moved just a couple of hours prior to its scheduled 1:30 p.m. start time to Seton Hall due to rainy conditions. But not even the dreary and damp conditions were able to cool down the Lions’ bats, as they pounded out 13 hits.

The Lions scored four runs in the first inning as Alexa Raphael opened the scoring on a wild pitch. Then, Kayla Oh hit an RBI single, Kasey Sekula had an RBI sacrifice fly and Kocenski hit RBI double.

It tacked on five more in the third, beginning with Taffett’s inside-the-park home run. It also received RBI doubles from Raphael and Kocenski. Then, it struck for five more in the seventh inning, as Raphael, Ali Winters, and Alex Cruz each had hits, while Dani Dabroski and Sarah Taffett each hit RBI sacrifice flies.

Raphael, the freshman leadoff hitter, finished by going 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Johanna Rivera also went 2-for-3 with two runs.

With the sectional title now in tow, the Lions can now look towards an even bigger goal- winning a state title. The team is full of confidence after its wins over IHA and Holy Angels this week, but it will have a tough task in facing the No. 2 team in the NJ.com Top 20 in St. John Vianney.

“I’m super excited,” Kocenski said. “I have a lot of confidence in this team. I can’t wait to see what we do on Saturday, and I have a lot of hope for us.”

Samantha Hess and Laura Pesanello each had a hit for Holy Angels.

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