Home Latest News More Minervini magic leads Pequannock to North 1, Group 2 softball crown...

More Minervini magic leads Pequannock to North 1, Group 2 softball crown – NJ.com


SOFTBALL: Pequannock vs Indian Hills (NJSIAA North 1, Group 2, Final)
McKenzie Minervini was given the keys to the bus entering the 2022 season.
For the first time in her career, the sophomore was slated to be the undisputed ace for Pequannock.
It took a while to get mentally and physically adjusted to the demands of taking on such a role, especially given the daunting schedule Pequannock put together, but Minervini steadily improved.
Now, she’s peaking at the right time.
The sophomore tossed a four-hit shutout on Friday to lift 10th-seeded Pequannock to a 6-0 win over top-seeded Indian Hills to win the North Jersey 1, Group 2 title in Oakland.
It’s Minervini’s fourth shutout in her last five starts and it’s also Pequannock’s first sectional championship since 2012.
“She’s grown tremendously,” said Pequannock coach Maryann Goodwin. “Last year as a freshman, she split time with my senior pitcher (Brielle Toone). The beginning of this season, she didn’t quite grasp the concept that she was the one. I kept telling her you’re our No. 1 pitcher. She matured and her pitches got tighter.”
Her screwball and rise ball have become much more dominant when compared to what they were in April.
She’s allowed one or fewer runs in six of her last seven starts. That run includes a four-hit shutout against Whippany Park and a three-hit goose egg against a Kinnelon team that just won a sectional title itself.
“I honestly think just having confidence in my pitches and knowing that I’m going to have the defense to back me up,” Minervini said. “I’m pitching free and believing in myself to throw strikes and just pitch.”
While she only allowed four hits in Friday’s win, she also had just four strikeouts.
The defense behind her was stellar.
In the fifth inning, Sam Blahut made back-to-back grabs on the run to both gaps to prevent what could’ve become a game-changing inning, as the top of the order for Indian Hills came up right after.
The senior, who’s committed to playing field hockey at Johnson and Wales University in the fall, had four catches in the entire game.
“It motivates everyone,” said Blahut of the defense. “When one person gets going, then everyone reflects off of that and it brings up the mood a lot.”
Despite getting back to .500 with the win, this team is ready to be a serious contender for a state championship. It already faced a tough schedule inside the NJAC’s Liberty Division, but the team picked up out-of-conference opponents like Old Tappan and Bergen Tech.
“I really want to thank Morris Catholic, Whippany Park, Hanover Park and Madison, all the teams in my conference for making us good,” Goodwin said. “If we weren’t facing top pitchers day after day we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we’re playing right now.”
Emma Bringard singled and drove in two runs in the win and Niki Klimek collected two hits and an RBI.
Next up is a date with Hanover Park in the Group 2 semifinals next week.
“I just think that we’re such a positive team,” Minervini said. “We don’t get down. We just stay positive and believe in each other. We don’t give up and keep pushing.”
A post shared by Brian Bobal (@brianbobalhs)
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Brian Bobal may be reached at bbobal@njadvancemedia.com. Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianBobal and on Instagram @BrianBobalHS. Like NJ.com High School Sports on Facebook.
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