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Williamstown wins Group 4 crown

TOMS RIVER, N.J. - Five games, five shutouts. That's the shorthand on Williamstown senior Rachael Matreale's pitching in the NJSIAA softball tournament.

TOMS RIVER, N.J. - Five games, five shutouts.

That's the shorthand on Williamstown senior Rachael Matreale's pitching in the NJSIAA softball tournament.

Matreale completed one of the best postseasons in South Jersey softball history yesterday as Williamstown defeated Ridgewood, 2-0, in the Group 4 state championship game.

"Is that unbelievable or what?" Williamstown coach Fred Powell said of Matreale's scoreless pitching in 35 innings of tournament play.

Matreale, a 5-foot-11 righthander, allowed five hits and struck out nine on a sweltering afternoon at Toms River North.

Junior second baseman Katie Trotter, who played with a protective mask after suffering a broken jaw in a batting-cage accident Friday night, had two hits and drove in a run for Williamstown (26-1).

Freshman centerfielder Amanda Martinez drove in the other run for Williamstown, which captured the first state title in the history of the program.

"It's awesome," said Matreale, who finished the season with a 21-1 record, including 20 shutouts, and a 0.11 earned run average. "There's no feeling like it. We showed we're not a team to be taken lightly in Group 4."

Matreale, who struck out 226 in 150 innings this season, battled through the heat against a tough lineup from Ridgewood (24-5), a talented team that won the North Jersey championship.

The Braves backed their ace with error-free defense, as shortstop Christen Glutz, leftfielder Briana Molino and catcher Chrissy Tamburrino combined for several strong plays in the field.

"Rachael pitches awesome and we back her up all the way," Glutz said.

Glutz and Matreale are Williamstown's only seniors.

"It's amazing for me and Christen to go out as seniors winning a state championship," Matreale said.

Williamstown scored the game's only runs in the bottom of the first inning.

Sophomore Jess Martinez led off with a single. Glutz reached base safely on a fielder's choice, as Martinez beat the throw to second.

Trotter followed with an RBI single.

"I didn't even know if she was going to play, and she knocks in the first run and gets two hits," Powell said.

After Molino's sacrifice, Amanda Martinez drove in the second run with a single.

"That was huge," Glutz said of taking the early lead. "We were all nervous, and that took the pressure off us."

Said Matreale: "Getting those two runs early, that set us up for the rest of the game."

Matreale struck out eight through the first 51/3 innings. But Ridgewood made it interesting in the sixth, as Megan Morris reached base on a bunt single and Kaitlyn Walsh followed with an infield single.

After a fielder's choice, Ridgewood had runners on second and third with two outs.

But Matreale retired clean-up Theresa Kircher on a fly ball to Molino.

In the seventh, with a runner on first, Tamburrino made the Braves' final play by springing out of the catcher's box, fielding a swinging bunt, and firing to first for the out.

"My defense was just awesome," Matreale said. "We knew that was a good team, and this was just the kind of game we needed to play to win."

Ridgewood 000 000 0 - 0 5 2

Williamstown 200 000 x - 2 5 0

WP: Racheal Matreale. LP: Ali Vagianos.