Eastern wins state softball championship

Posted: June 11, 2012

This story has been corrected from the original version.

The Eastern High softball player who drove in a run Saturday in the state Group IV championship game was incorrectly identified in Sunday’s editions. Senior catcher Gen Gaynor singled, and courtesy runner Ally Schmus went to second on a groundout before scoring on a throwing error in the 2-0 win over Hunterdon Central.

TOMS RIVER, N.J. - Madison Tiernan just hoped that if she dived for the ball she would catch it.

The junior second baseman for Eastern was hurting from a collision in the previous inning, but she took off running anyway and slid feet-first into foul territory.

The ball found Tiernan's glove and was a flashy finish to a game that was otherwise a pitchers' duel, as the Eastern softball team won the state Group 4 championship by defeating defending champ Hunterdon Central, 2-0, Saturday at Toms River North.

"I was really hurting after that," Tiernan said of the collision. "I was hoping [the foul ball] would fall in my glove, and it did."

The state title is only the second in Eastern's history, the first occurring back in 1986. Two years ago, the Vikings reached the Group 4 title game but lost to Morris Knolls, 4-3.

"We've been here before and we lost it, so we came back for revenge," senior Stephanie Wolfrom said.

Senior pitcher Steph Vuono threw a one-hitter and struck out seven, catching the Red Devils off guard with her commanding rise ball. Hunterdon batters reached second base only twice all game, once on an error and once on a stolen base.

"She doesn't get anywhere near the respect she deserves," Eastern coach Jamie McGroarty said. "You throw two shutouts in the state semifinals and the state finals - not many kids have done that.

"She's phenomenal."

Vuono pitched 25 games for the Vikings (22-4) this season, going 21-4 with an ERA of less than 1.00. She gave up 122 hits, striking out 167.

"She carried our team all season, and I feel so comfortable with her pitching," Tiernan said.

The game was scoreless until the sixth inning, when Wolfrom doubled to right field, scoring Tiernan, who had bunted for a single.

"I just went up to bat knowing that it could be my last, and it paid off," Wolfrom said.

The Vikings added a security run in the top of the seventh inning after senior catcher Gen Gaynor singled. Courtesy runner Ally Schmus went to second on a groundout before scoring on a throwing error.

"The first run was the best, and the second was just icing on the cake," Vuono said. "It's always nice to be in that comfort zone where you know if they score a run it's OK because you still have the extra cushion."

Jessie Dreswick gave up three hits for Hunterdon Central (22-9), the first of which didn't come until Tiernan's single in the sixth inning. The sophomore struck out eight.

Eastern 000 001 1 - 2 3 2

Hunterdon Central 000 000 0 - 0 1 3

WP: Steph Vuono. LP: Jessie Dreswick. 2B: E-Stephanie Wolfrom.

Contact Kate Harman

at rallysports@phillynews.com.

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