Softball: HCT Final – Weehawken defeats Bayonne

May 21, 2023
Jake Aferiat | NJ Advance Media for
Eva Shevlin stepped up to bat in the top of the sixth inning with something to prove.

The batter before her, Brooke McHale, had just been intentionally waked with one out to load the bases for the Weehawken third baseman.

In that moment, Shevlin knew what the perception was.

“I honestly tell her, when people walk us you need to take it personally because they think that they can get you out,” Weehawken ace Savanna McHale said.

Shevlin heeded the elder McHale’s advice.

“When they do that I always feel something in me like, ‘Oh, I’ve really got to stick it to them,” Shevlin said. “I take it really personally when they do that, but I feel like taking it personally helps me like be more motivated to hit the ball and put it in play.”

She did more than just put the ball in play. With one swing of the bat she helped cement her name and Weehawken softball’s name forever in school history.

Shevlin ripped a three-run double to the outfield to score all three runs and put Weehawken up 5-1 before she scored herself on a wild pitch to make it 6-1 before Weehawken went on to win the game 6-2, giving the school its first Hudson County title since 1980 and the first girls program across any sport in school history to ever win a county title.

The win also avenges a 1-0 walk-off loss to Bayonne in last year’s Hudson County final.

“Eva specifically always comes up clutch for us in big situations. And it is underrated because we have such big names and powerhouse hitters on our team,” Weehawken coach Raquel Roder said. “But Eva always finds a way to put the ball in play.”

Shevlin is motivated in part by the McHales and Envey Duran who bat before her in the lineup, even if prior to that point she was potentially thought of as an easy out.

“I know that they’re great hitters, but I feel like going after them. It kind of gives me more motivation to do better than I think I might normally,” Shevlin said. “If I’m feeling down that day. I’m like, ‘okay, I can do a just as well as them because they’re great players, great hitters and it just motivates me to be better. It’s competition for myself.”

The Indians struggled to put the ball in play, early, though. They didn’t get their first hit until the fourth inning and went down in order two times in the first three innings as well.

Bayonne jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first after Caitlin Gaetani ripped a double down the left field line, scoring Gabby Diaz, who then took the ball in circle and shut down the Indians to start.

But Weehawken’s bats eventually woke up, first when Brooke McHale roped a go-ahead two-run double of her own to give the Indians the 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth.

Weehawken never relinquished the lead, though Bayonne threatened in the top of the sixth, hitting three straight singles to load the bases with no out.

Even before, there was a sense that Savanna McHale, normally stingy with walks and usually a prolific strike thrower, would potentially be able to be gotten to.

Her command in the opening innings was spotty in parts, walking opposing pitcher Gabby Diaz to open the game before hitting a batter and throwing a wild pitch in the second.

“That [sixth inning] was a tough inning, I’m not going to lie. Obviously in the first inning, my pitches were going crazy. I mean, I’ve never seen my pitches go that far out,” she said. “It was definitely nerves. I get nervous but usually I don’t let it get to me except today. I wanted this so badly that I think I was trying so hard to place the ball.”

As Roder has reiterated time and again, though, with McHale in the circle, the Indians are in every single game, this one included.
But this game wasn’t about Savanna McHale, even if she did have 11 strikeouts. Nor is it about Brooke McHale, who had a two-run double to open the scoring and nor is it about Envey Duran or Brianna McHale, the four of whom almost always get the spotlight when discussing Weehawken.

This game was about Eva Shevlin, who is just as much a part of this squad and just as big a contributor as everyone else, even if those outside of Hudson County don’t know it yet.

”I always ask my assistant coach, what do you think people say about us and what’s our scouting report, because you hear all these things with different teams and someone once was like, ‘Oh, they’re only four girls — the McHales and Envey,” Roder said. “The fact that we have the bottom of our lineup coming up clutch and putting the ball in play is huge.”

Jake Aferiat covers the Big North, GMC, HCIAL, NJAC, NJIC, SEC, Skyland and UCC. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Jake_Aferiat.