NJ Pride 10U rolls to Finch 10U championship

By DN WRITING STAFF | April 24, 2023

By Sean Reilly 

The NJ Pride 10U does many things on a routine basis whenever it takes the field.

Seeking revenge isn’t usually one of them.

The Pride 10U has played over 40 times since the start of the 2022 fall season. Along the way, they’ve lost only twice.

One of those games took place last year against the Northwest Explosion from Pennsylvania.

And sure enough, after an exceptional weekend of play, the NJ Pride was matched up against the Explosion for the championship of the Diamond Nation 10U Jennie Finch Spring Invitational on Sunday night in Flemington.

The Pride made the most of the opportunity by rolling to an 11-1, four-inning victory. It completed a 6-0 weekend, with a 57-8 run differential. Five of those wins were by seven runs or more.

“We really played well as a team,” said Erin Costa Fernandes, who had a walk, single and run scored in the final, and also pitched in parts of two of the team’s other three games during the day, including a win in the only tight game, a 4-2 triumph over the Empire State Huskies in the quarterfinals.

“Our pitchers did great, our fielders did great and our offense was amazing,” she said. “I’m so happy. They beat us last year, but this time we came back and beat them. It felt weird playing a team we had lost to, but before the game, everyone was like ‘We’re going to play the Explosion! We’re going to play the Explosion!’”

Samantha Thomas was the winning pitcher in the final. She went all four innings, allowing two hits with nine strikeouts and one walk.

Three of those strikeouts came in the top of the first, which ended with an Explosion runner stranded on third.

The Pride wasted no time in scoring four times in the bottom of the inning. Leadoff batter Karli Heinemann (2-for-2, two runs, one RBI) walked on a full count and stole second. Taylor Haines then hit an RBI single to the left side and took second base on a throw to the plate. Marianna Iannitelli singled to left field to score Haines. Iannitelli stole second, moved to third on a throwing error and came home on a passed ball with Giovanna Rossiter at the plate with one out. Rossiter stole second, which was followed by a walk to Costa Fernandes.

Jayla Timmons was retired on an infield fly rule pop up to second base which was dropped, but Rossiter hustled home on the play for a 4-0 lead.

The Explosion got their only run in the second inning. Reese Chicora led off with a bunt single, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Eva Kish then grounded a ball that deflected off the pitcher’s glove for an RBI single with one out.

The Pride added two more runs in the third. Heinemann singled with one out, stole second and scored on a single by Haines (2-for-3, two runs, two RBI). Haines stole second, moved to third on a passed ball and scored when Iannitelli grounded out to shortstop.

The Pride struck for two more runs in the third for an 8-1 lead. Costa Fernandes led off with a single and took second on a throwing error. Timmons (2-for-2, two runs, four RBI) singled her home, and then scored on a two-out single by Heinemann.

The Pride closed out the game in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run single from Timmons and one-run single courtesy of Adela Rossiter.

“We hit well,” said NJ Pride coach Keith Heinemann. “Both in the semifinals and the final. I’m proud of them. They beat us in the fall, so it was a good game to get back. It was nice to come back and get them in the championship. We played good defense, we made our plays, it was a good overall performance.”

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