Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Duncan's Patience Lifts Northern Highlands

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Duncan's Patience Lifts Northern Highlands

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP -- Katie Duncan wasn't fazed or intimidated by facing one of the top pitchers in the state in a critical situation. She just somehow wanted to make good contact in a clutch situation.

Duncan succeeded on her mission after she fouled off six consecutive 3-and-2 deliveries, rapping a key double in the bottom of the sixth inning. That led to the only run of the game in Northern Highlands' 1-0 victory over Warren Hills on Saturday at the 10th annual Immaculate Heart Invitational Northeast softball tournament.

"I just wanted to battle as hard as I could and, I knew if I kept fighting I would get something out over the plate I could see clearly, I could be successful," Duncan said. "Finally I kind of saw one in my zone and I jumped on it."

Fiona Walley had singled with one out and then Duncan extended her at-bat before belting her two-base hit into deep right-center. When Nicole Gattoni followed with a sacrifice fly to right, Northern Highlands (4-1), the No. 2 team in The Record preseason Top 25, had its precious one run.

Warren Hills pitcher Madey Smith, a junior right-hander committed to Penn State, threw a superb game, allowing only three hits, while striking out 10 and walking two. A year ago, Smith helped Warren Hills win the North 2, Group 3 championship and extend eventual unbeaten state champion Indian Hills to extra innings before finally falling in the Group 3 semifinals.

But Duncan also came through in the circle for the Highlanders as the Harvard-bound senior right-hander tossed a nifty three-hitter, striking out eight, walking one and hitting one batter. Duncan's toughest inning was the third when Warren Hills (1-4) put runners on second and third, but a strikeout and a fly ball helped her escape.

"We want to make as many plays under pressure as we can and we want to force our opponent to try to make as many plays under pressure, and eventually we figure we can come out OK," said Northern Highlands coach Chris Broking. …

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