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Hillsborough continues hot streak on the diamond with victory over Hunterdon Central

Hillsborough High School shortstop Danella Silagy tags out Hunterdon Central's Julia Pfeifer at second base during a game played on May 11 in Flemington. Hillsborough defeated Hunterdon Central 4-0 to improve to 9-1 on the season.

A nine-game winning streak is fueling the “fun” 9-1 start to the 2021 season that the Hillsborough High School softball team has been having during its first season back on the diamond in two years.

The Raiders moved up into the top spot in the Skyland Conference Delaware Division standings on May 11 in Flemington, seeing a stellar pitching performance by sophomore ace Sarah Davenport, and clutch two-out hitting leading them to a 4-0 victory over the Red Devils.

“I can’t say enough about them,” Hillsborough softball Coach Cheryl Iaione said about her players after the victory over Hunterdon Central Regional High School, located in Flemington. “They’re a great group of kids. They’re coachable. They work hard and good things are coming their way.”

Davenport racked up 13 strikeouts to secure her second straight complete-game shutout and third overall this season in the victory over Hunterdon Central.

The sophomore started the contest by striking out the side and never looked back, only allowing two hits in the contest to follow up her no-hitter against North Hunterdon High School on May 6.

Through her first 10 career starts at the varsity level, Davenport has tallied 121 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings pitched and has only four earned runs charged to her ledger.

Davenport said after the victory against Hunterdon Central that she is very proud of herself for what she has accomplished so far this season, especially since she didn’t have a freshman season in 2020.

“To come in and do this as a sophomore is something I didn’t think would happen to this extreme,” Davenport said. “I’m just trying to take things one game at a time. The team is great and everything is working well so far.”

Davenport’s teammates gave her a lead to work with during the top of the third inning with a two-out rally.

A two-out double by designated hitter Diya Patel kept the inning going for the Raiders, and after first baseman Sierra Skala reached base on a hit-by-pitch, right fielder Claire Marcinek put Hillsborough on the board with an RBI single through the left side of the infield.

Hillsborough added to its lead in the top half of the fourth inning with another two-out hit, this time from catcher Alexa Chess.

Before stepping up to the plate with runners on second and third, Chess was pulled aside by Iaione.

Chess said Iaione told her to “have fun and do what you do,” and that’s exactly what she did.

The junior catcher bashed a two-run single up the middle to extend the Hillsborough lead to 3-0. The two RBI are the first this season for Chess.

“It felt like a good team aspect thing to help my team win,” Chess said about her two-run single. “We’re just trying to have fun and are taking each game as it comes.”

The Raiders tallied their fourth and final run of the contest in the sixth inning with left fielder Claire Murphy dunking in an RBI single to center field.

Second baseman Victoria Fantozzi reached base safely in all three of her plate appearances for Hillsborough during the victory over Hunterdon Central, which included two hits and a run scored.

Shortstop Danella Silagy had a base-hit and a run scored in the contest as well for the Raiders.

During its current nine-game winning streak, Hillsborough has outscored its opponents 51-6.

Hillsborough was next scheduled to play Ridge High School on May 13 and will then host Montgomery High School on May 15. Montgomery is the only team that Hillsborough has lost to this season.

The fun that Iaione and her players have been having over the course of the nine-game winning streak is something the 25th-year coach of the Raiders wants to keep “rolling” with county and state tournaments on the horizon.

“We’re getting better all the time,” Iaione said. “The younger kids are contributing and the older kids are being leaders. We want to keep ourselves safe and have fun and enjoy each other’s company.”



Hillsborough High School pitcher Sarah Davenport wheels and fires a pitch to the plate during a game played against Hunterdon Central on May 11 in Flemington. Davenport had 13 strikeouts in her complete-game shutout for Hillsborough.
Hillsborough High School catcher Alexa Chess reaches base safely on an error during a game against Hunterdon Central on May 11 in Flemington. Chess had a two-run single in the contest.
Hillsborough High School right fielder Claire Marcinek catches a fly ball during a game against Hunterdon Central on May 11 in Flemington. Marcinek had an RBI single in the contest.
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