Wayne Valley Softball Sweeps Tough West Milford Team

Gianna LaMorges, Staff Writer

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The Wayne Valley Softball team has had a fun and successful season. The girls ended with a 9 and 13 record and while this was not the record that the girls had hoped for, the 2019 season brought a lot of twists and turns for this underdog softball team. The Indians swept a strong West Milford team for the first time in a very long while. The Highlanders pitcher, Jess Perucki, has committed to a Division 1 softball program and is definitely one of the best pitchers in North Jersey. Even knowing this, the Indians went into both games confident and ready to take on a very tough team. Led by senior captains Hanna Robinson and Skylar Somick and junior captain and pitcher Samantha Hendershott, the Wayne Valley Softball team took the field and did what had to be done.

Wayne Valley Softball headed to West Milford for their fourth game of the 2019 season on April 13. This game was definitely a nail biter but Wayne Valley was able to hold West Milford at bay, winning by only one run. Junior pitcher and captain, Samantha Hendershott kept the Highlanders off guard with her incredible changeup and ability to place pitches. Sami used her own skill and the skill of the defense behind her to keep West Milford to three runs. Sami stated, “During the game, I put my trust in my team to make the plays behind me. I try to never let the pressure get to me by trusting in my preparation”. Sami has pitched full-time for this Wayne Valley team for the past two years and has improved by leaps and bounds. This year, especially, she let the Highlanders see how her curveball, screwball and drop ball can move and she caught them off guard with her filthy changeup.

Senior Hanna Robinson has played with Sami for a long time and has seen her improve through the years. Robinson has not only watched Sami pitch for the Indians but also on multiple teams outside of high school. “I’ve watched Sami pitch since we played together on 12u. Throughout the years, she always improved and she never gave up. She always works so hard and it pays off. I believe that these two games against West Milford were her best games as a pitcher” Hanna explained. Sami was definitely the biggest reason why the Indians were able to succeed against West Milford.

The two big wins against West Milford were all team efforts with great defense and aggressive hitting. However, there were exceptional plays made by the Indians outfielders that helped secure the wins. Senior captain and center fielder Skylar Somick made one of those plays. During the second game between the Highlanders and Indians, Somick made a game-saving diving play in center field. There was a high fly ball right behind second base. No one was calling for it so Somick, as a leader, took charge and laid out. Somick explained what she was thinking as the ball was hit, “I am determined to catch every single ball I can. When the ball was hit to right field and I saw that the ball was most likely not going to be caught all I was thinking is “I am not gonna let this ball hit the floor”. She is a hard-working and determined player and it truly showed during this game and especially during this play Diving plays like this get a team excited and make the game just that much more fun. However, players do not need to make diving plays to save the game.

During the first game at West Milford, another Wayne Valley outfielder made a very helpful play. Junior left fielder Molly McAtee made a game-saving double play look easy. The game was close as the Indians were only winning by one run. With a runner for the Highlander son third base, a ball was hit in the air to McAtee in left field. Once the ball was caught, the runner from third tagged up and headed for home. If not for McAtee, that run would have scored and the game would have been more difficult to win. Right after the ball hit her glove, McAtee fired it home to the catcher to tag the runner and secure the Indians lead over the Highlanders. Molly explained what the catch felt like in such a big moment, “Being able to catch that fly ball, throw it home, and get the lead runner out was amazing. We were playing against West Milford and I was able to come through”. McAtee proved how good of an arm she had and she did it in a very big spot. She was one of the major reasons why Wayne Valley secured their first win against West Milford.

Wayne Valley softball has had a reputation for being a very tough team to face. The girls never gave up, and win or loss, always had a smile on their faces. This fun and loose energy kept other teams, like West Milford, on their toes throughout the whole game. The Indians never gave up and pushed through errors and strikeouts. This 2019 softball team swept West Milford and that has never been done in Wayne Valley Softball history. The varsity head coach, Coach Helm, knew this and was extremely happy for the girls. Coach Helm said, “Sweeping West Milford in the regular season has never been done at Wayne Valley and the fact that we did it with a very young team versus their senior-heavy team was a great thing for our girls to experience. I was very happy for them and beyond proud of them.” Helm only became the varsity head coach at the start of the 2018 season. The entire WVSB program is very young and for them to beat West Milford in not only one, but two games in the same season was inspiring for the rest of the season.

After beating West Milford both times, the Wayne Valley girls had a rush of confidence. They knew from that point on that they could beat anyone. All it took was a big upset against the league champions and county runners-up.

This 2019 Wayne Valley softball team will be remembered and talked about for years to come for their unique character, incredible talent, and great teamwork. These girls were very close on and off the field and never failed to support each other, and that is what this sport is about. After winning two tough games against the West Milford Highlanders, this softball program knows that anything is possible in the future with hard work and dedication.