SOFTBALL: Vitale’s homer helps persistent Wolverines down Cavaliers

Published 11:18 am Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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olk County persisted Monday and perhaps proved a point.

East Rutherford put runners on base in every inning, but the Wolverines kept most of them there, delivering key defensive plays in a 5-4 Mountain Foothills 7 Conference victory.

A 30-minute lightning delay in the top of the sixth inning didn’t deter Polk County (6-6, 2-5), which built an early two-run lead and made it stand in picking up an important league triumph.

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“I’ve been telling them all year that we are as good as anybody in this conference,” said Polk head coach Phillip Miller. “We just need to step up and show it. Tonight, we finally showed it against one of the better teams in the conference.”

Elizabeth Vitale’s solo home run to center field in the fifth inning provided the winning run, but the Wolverine defense was more the deciding factor. East Rutherford (7-7, 5-3) left nine runners on base, including a pair in the final inning.

“We played good defense,” Miller said. “We finally got over that hump where we had been that one inning that’s just killed us all year. We had plenty of chances tonight to just let it go and we held together. Honestly, good things are coming.”

The Cavaliers scored a pair of runs in their first at-bat, but Polk responded with a run in the first as Mia Bradley scored on Junie Mitchell’s bases-loaded walk.

The Wolverines then grabbed the lead with a three-run second inning, the key blow being Vitale’s two-run single. Mitchell added an RBI single with two outs to give Polk a 4-2 lead.

The Cavaliers pushed across runs in the third and fifth innings to tie the game, but Polk limited East’s damage in each at-bat. Vitale’s blast then gave the Wolverines a lead that wouldn’t lose.

Vitale finished 2-for-2 with three RBI, with Miya Jackson, Laney Littlefield, Bradley and Mitchell each adding a base hit.

Polk County will continue its current homestand on Wednesday, hosting R-S Central at 4:30 p.m.