North Warren, Morris Hills

Thrills at Morris Hills: Knights Edge Sparta 3-2 in Walk off Win

The Morris Hills Softball team took the field Thursday afternoon, knowing a win would set up an epic group final with rival Morris Knolls on Saturday. Standing in their way was a top-caliber Sparta team coming into the day with two wins on the road in the tournament, including upsetting top-seeded Ramapo two days prior.

Zoe Turner took the ball for the Scarlet Knights, while Gabi Heim got the nod for the Spartans. Both pitchers entered the game with a sub 2.00 ERA, setting up what would be a memorable pitcher's duel.

Hills got on the board in the 1st inning after a walk and error put runners at the corners with two outs. Theresa Brown dug in with a chance to put Morris Hills in front early. Brown kept her hands back and drove the ball into right field for an RBI single, and the Scarlet Knights jumped out to a 1-0 lead.

The Spartans’ offense came alive in the top of the 3rd after a leadoff single followed by an error placed runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Alexia Hill grounded into a fielder’s choice to tie the game, and Alexis Arpino doubled off the wall to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead. With the momentum shifting, Holly Lagitch made a Willie Mayes catch on a soft liner from Heim and quickly fired to 1st to double up the runner and end the inning. 

After the 3rd, both pitchers settled in and did not allow a run through the 6th inning, living up to the hype of the pitching matchup. In that stretch of innings, Heim and Turner only allowed two hits combined as we entered the 7th inning. Alexa Berry reached in the top of the 7th with a one-out single, but Turner retired the next two batters, giving Hills one last shot to tie or take the lead. 

Jordyn Zeek and Zoe Turner reached base, putting runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs left in the game. Up stepped the Freshman Lagitch, who just two days prior had a walk-off hit against Monville. Down to her final strike, Lagitch blooped a single into right, driving in two runs, and the Scarlet Knights advanced in dramatic fashion. 

With the win, Morris Hills will now go up against Morris Knolls in the ultimate Route 46 showdown on Saturday. The winner of the Group Three final will advance and have bragging rights for the year.

Top Players

Zoe Turner earned the win after going the distance, allowing just one earned run, and punching out eight Spartans.

Freshman Holly Lagitch continues to impress and has become Morris Hills’ best hitter in clutch situations. In the Scarlet Knights' past two state tournament games, the Freshman had three hits and two walks and drove in three runs. All of her three RBIs have been 7th inning hits to win the game for Hills.

Next Chapter in the Rivalry

Knolls has taken the last five matchups against the Scarlet Knights including a 13-1 victory back in April this year. Zoe Turner will look to bounce back from that game, and by the way, she pitched on Wednesday; there’s no doubt she will bring her A game. Over on the Knolls side, Leah Kleczkowski will take the ball entering play with a 1.93 ERA on the year. In their last matchup, Kleczkowski allowed one run over five innings of play and struck out five to earn the win for Morris Knolls.

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Be sure to check out for updates on the Morris Hills and Morris Knolls Final!

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