Monday, May 27
The Record

RUTHERFORD 3, CALDWELL 2 (at Rutherford): It’s the most important, and most stressful, time of the season.

The Rutherford softball team believes it has found the perfect temperament to guide them through these tough games. Rutherford had that toughness on Sunday, beating Caldwell 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the North 2, Group 2 state tournament. The Bulldogs advance to play Lyndhurst in Tuesday’s semifinals.

“There’s a sense of Bulldog toughness that we’ve had in recent weeks,” Rutherford coach Helen Antzoulides said. “And hopefully they’re ready to continue to stay that way, because that’s what it is going to take. At this point, everybody has skill, but who has the mental toughness to get through a bad at-bat or a bad inning and respond?” The key sequence came in the bottom of the third. Rutherford had just surrendered its 2-0 lead. But the Bulldogs wasted no time in responding. Ally Paskas got a triple. The next batter, Gina Viggiano, drove in Paskas with a triple to give second-seeded Rutherford a 3-2 lead over No. 7 Caldwell.

“That was big,” Antzoulides said, “because any time you give the so co-called underdog a little momentem or a little hope, anything can happen. The fact that we could come right back and respond, that’s key.”

Pitcher Julie Sosnicki got the win, allowing six hits and striking out eight. Caldwell had runners on second and third with nobody out in the first inning, but Sosnicki got out of the jam. Now Rutherford gets ready for its next big game, hoping the road is a little easier than the last few days. This game was originally supposed to be played on Thursday but was pushed back because of the inclement weather.