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Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

THE NORTHWEST JERSEY Blazers won this weekend’s New York 23-and-Under ASA Open Fast Pitch Tournament at Edward M. Collins Memorial Park in Mongaup Valley. In the front row, from left to right, are Kristen Schoenig, Kelly Karp, Jasmyne Vargas, Denise Castelli and Whitney Driver. In the back row, from left to right, are Assistant Coach Glenn DiLeo, Assistant Coach Ed Pachuta, Jessie Derbyshire, Jill Madison, Lindsey Pachuta, Jessica DiLeo, Leighann Tczap, Coach Jeff Smith and Assistant Coach Bill Schoenig. Missing from photo are team members Amanda Albanese, Kelly Apgar, Camille Cilento and Ashley Minervini.

Jersey Takes

By Rob Potter
MONGAUP VALLEY — July 11, 2006 – What a difference a day makes.
On Saturday, the Northwest Jersey Blazers won once and lost twice in round-robin competition at the New York Women’s 23-and-Under ASA Open Fast Pitch Tournament at Edward M. Collins Memorial Park in Mongaup Valley.
On Sunday, the Blazers, who are based in Clinton, NJ, won two consecutive games to capture the tournament championship. The Blazers defeated the New Jersey Force, 7-4, in a semifinal contest and then rebounded from an early deficit to top the New Jersey Thunder, 8-6, in the championship game.
In their semifinal victory over the Force, the Blazers overcame a 4-1 deficit in the early innings. In the top of the third, Kelly Karp belted a two-run triple and Leighann Tzcap ripped an RBI single to knot the score at 4-4.
Northwest Jersey added three runs later in the final four innings and held the Force scoreless during those frames to record the victory.
In the title game, the New Jersey Thunder grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. In the third inning, Kelly Schwerzler, Kirsten Homza and Colleen Ferguson hit back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles as the Thunder extended its advantage to 5-0.
The Blazers began their comeback in the bottom of the fourth. The team cut its deficit to 5-3 as Karp hit a sacrifice fly and Jasmyne Vargas smacked a two-run single to right field.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Blazers scored four runs to take a 7-3 lead. Karp used an excellent batting eye to draw a bases-loaded walk, which allowed Jill Madison to score from third base and make it 5-4 game.
The next batter, Tczap, singled to left field. Lindsey Pachuta and Jessica DiLeo both scored on Tczap’s base hit to give the Blazers a 6-5 advantage.
Karp crossed home plate on a groundout by Whitney Driver to make it a 7-5 game.
After each team scored once in the sixth inning, Ferguson began the top of the seventh with a walk. But Karp, the Blazers’ pitcher, then got two groundouts and fly out to preserve her team’s title-clinching victory.
“This is a team in every sense of the word,” Blazers Coach Jeff Smith said. “There are 14 girls on the roster and the 14th player is just as important as the first.
“We really emphasize playing as a team,” Smith added. “Everyone of these girls had a hand in us winning this trophy.”
Thunder Beats Top-Seed
In Sunday’s first semifinal game, the Thunder defeated the tournament’s host team, Tout Va Bien/Pro Prospects. After losing all three of its games on Saturday, the Thunder was the fourth seed for Sunday’s single-elimination semifinal and final rounds. But the Thunder began Sunday with a 6-1 victory over TVB/PP, which earned the top seed by going undefeated on Saturday.
TVB/PP, which is named after its two sponsors, a Manhattan restaurant and Pro Prospects Baseball Training Center in Monticello, respectively, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. With one out, Christine Stathes blasted a ground-rule double to center field that allowed Kate Yaun, who opened the inning with a single, to score easily.
Shannon Dietrich and Kate Farrugia then walked to load the bases for TVB/PP. But Thunder pitcher Nicole Nelson got the next two batters to fly out and ground out, respectively, to prevent TVB/PP from building a larger lead.
Unfortunately for the TVB/PP players and coaches, that would be the only run for the team in the contest.
The Thunder tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Kristen Shaw. The team took the lead for good in the top of the fifth. With two outs and Nelson on third base, Caitlin Roach singled to left field. Nelson crossed the plate to give the Thunder a 2-1 lead.
After adding a run in the top of the sixth, the Thunder added three insurance runs in the seventh. Christina Amarone and Nelson had RBI singles in the frame and Kelly Schwerzler added a sacrifice fly.
TVB/PP, which scored 19 runs and allowed only one run while winning all three of its round-robin games on Saturday, struggled against the Thunder.
“The bats went dry today,” TVB/PP Coach Dennis Dietrich said.
The complete tournament results are as follows:
Saturday, July 8
TVB/PP 5 • NJ Thunder 1
Force 7 • Blazers 6
Force 11 • Thunder 6
Blazers 9 • Thunder 1
TVB/PP 8 • Force 0
TVB/PP 6 • Blazers 0
Sunday, July 9
Thunder 6 • TVB/PP 1 (semifinal)
Blazers 7 • Force 4 (semifinal)
Blazers 8 • Thunder 6 (final)

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