Dunn, O’Leary power Raritan to series sweep over Monmouth Regional

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Raritan High School softball coach Marc Rosner congratulates first baseman Sarah O'Leary for hitting a home run during a game against Monmouth Regional on May 14 in Tinton Falls. Raritan defeated Monmouth Regional 12-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School starting pitcher Kirsten Dunn flings in a strike during a game against Monmouth Regional on May 14 in Tinton Falls. Dunn pitched six perfect innings with eight strikeouts in the contest to help Raritan win 12-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School catcher Emma Springstead throws out the runner at first base during a game against Monmouth Regional on May 14 in Tinton Falls. Raritan won 12-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School first baseman Sarah O'Leary hits a solo home run in the second inning of a game against Monmouth Regional on May 14 in Tinton Falls. O'Leary had two home runs and three RBI for Raritan in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School shortstop Bella Plath catches a pop fly during a game against Monmouth Regional on May 14 in Tinton Falls. Plath had two RBI for Raritan in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School softball coach Marc Rosner congratulates first baseman Sarah O'Leary for hitting a home run during a game against Monmouth Regional on May 14 in Tinton Falls. Raritan defeated Monmouth Regional 12-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School starting pitcher Kirsten Dunn flings in a strike during a game against Monmouth Regional on May 14 in Tinton Falls. Dunn pitched six perfect innings with eight strikeouts in the contest to help Raritan win 12-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School catcher Emma Springstead throws out the runner at first base during a game against Monmouth Regional on May 14 in Tinton Falls. Raritan won 12-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School first baseman Sarah O'Leary hits a solo home run in the second inning of a game against Monmouth Regional on May 14 in Tinton Falls. O'Leary had two home runs and three RBI for Raritan in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Raritan High School shortstop Bella Plath catches a pop fly during a game against Monmouth Regional on May 14 in Tinton Falls. Plath had two RBI for Raritan in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

It was a special day on the mound and at the plate for seniors Kirsten Dunn and Sarah O’Leary of the Raritan High School softball team on May 14 against Monmouth Regional High School in Tinton Falls.

Dunn was stellar, throwing six perfect innings with eight strikeouts, while O’Leary bashed two home runs and had 3 RBIs to help Raritan roll to its second straight victory over Monmouth Regional, 12-0.

The Rockets defeated the Falcons, 3-0, on May 12 behind Dunn’s complete-game, three-hit shutout. That was the first complete-game shutout of the 2021 season for Dunn, who followed that with six perfect innings of work two days later.

On May 14, Dunn did not allow a ball to pass the infield from the second inning on. The senior ace did not get a chance to try for a seven-inning perfect game because of the 10-run rule, but that did not matter to Dunn, who was just happy her team won the game.

“I would love to have a perfect game, but it’s just great to have the feeling of beating a good team like Monmouth Regional, 12-0,” Dunn said. “It feels good to do this after not having a season last year (during the coronavirus pandemic).”

On May 14, O’Leary rocketed her first home run in the second inning to get Raritan on the scoreboard, shooting a laser over the centerfield fence for a 1-0 lead.

Her second home run came in the top of the sixth to cap a seven-run frame. O’Leary, the Rockets’ senior first baseman, launched a two-run homer over the left field fence to push the score to 12-0.

It was O’Leary’s second two-home run game this season and she said this one was more impressive because it came against Monmouth Regional ace Karlee Smith.

“It felt really good,” O’Leary said. “I felt more and more confident in each at-bat. I hope to do the same in the next few games and in the Shore Conference Tournament.”

O’Leary leads Raritan with six home runs and 20 RBI.

The Rockets had timely contributions with runners in scoring position. Freshman shortstop Bella Plath, hitting ninth, drove in two runs with a pair of singles. Hitting second, junior Julianne Benson drove in two runs and scored twice.

Junior left fielder Gwen Solomeno hit a bloop single to score a run to start the Rockets’ seven-run sixth inning and scored two runs. Designated Hitter Kori Gargiulo drove in a run during the sixth inning on a fielder’s choice.

Hitting lead-off, junior centerfielder Maria Taddeo scored two runs.

Raritan’s May 14 victory over Monmouth Regional lifted the Rockets to 9-3. They will begin play today, May 15, in the Shore Conference Tournament against Toms River East.

Coach Marc Rosner believes his squad can have success in the tournament, but said, “It’s a one-game-at-a-time mentality. We are ready to give it our best and take it one game at a time.

“We are grateful for every day we get on the field, whether it’s practice or a game. We are having a lot of fun out here and we are just happy to be competing on the field every day,” he said.