Overbrook's Sam Borrelli, playing with a heavy heart, slammed a two-run double Tuesday to break open a state Group 2 softball semifinal against Governor Livingston, and the Rams went on to a 10-3 victory.
Overbrook is scheduled to play Indian Hills, an 8-2 winner Tuesday over West Essex, for the state Group 2 championship Saturday in Toms River. The game will be at Toms River North or East, according to the NJSIAA, which will decide Wednesday.
Borrelli, a senior pitcher and shortstop, lost her grandfather, Francis "Micky" Gregory, to a heart attack the night before the game. Borrelli (13-0) was supposed to pitch, but coach Jim Chiumento kept her at shortstop while Jen Metzger worked the circle. Metzger improved to 13-2. The Rams are 26-2.
The bases were loaded in the top of the fifth inning when Borrelli smashed a 3-2 pitch into center field to score Mary Kate Verespy and Sarah Buchhofer. That broke a 2-2 tie.
Metzger, Borrelli, Lachelle Rouse and Keanna Ross also scored in the inning to give Overbrook an 8-2 lead.
"The whole time I was thinking 'Pop Pop,' " Borrelli said. "I just knew that he would be here, so I kind of felt like I wanted to do it for him, and then the team came through.
"He was my No. 1 fan. He had his hand on me."
Metzger doubled in a run and scored in the sixth inning for the final runs of the game. The senior had four of Overbrook's 13 hits, and stole a base. She also struck out 11.
The Highlanders (24-5) led by a run in the first inning and tied the score, 2-2, in the third.
"I was a little [shaky] in the beginning, but I had confidence in my team that we could come back and score runs," Metzger said.
Last year also was on the minds of Overbrook's five seniors. Cranford eliminated the Rams in a state semifinal, 1-0. With that in mind, Metzger, Borrelli, rightfielder Michelle Foster, third baseman Verespy, and first baseman Buchhofer were determined to advance.
"That was our motivation for coming back and winning today," Metzger said. "We wanted to go one step further than we did" last year.
Chiumento said that the team as a whole had been shaken by the death of Borrelli's grandfather, and that it didn't know how its star pitcher-shortstop would handle it. But Borrelli was stoic in the midst of her grief and played for "Pop Pop."
"We're seniors. This is our last chance," Borrelli said.
Overbrook 002 062 0 - 10 13 1
Governor Livingston 101 010 0 - 3 6 0
WP: Jen Metzger. LP: Ariana Bannos. 2B: O-Metzger, Sam Borrelli, Sarah Buchhofer. HR: GL.–Nicole Koszowski.