Led by Zucatti’s Hitting, Fielding Heroics, Hun Softball Primed for Big Stretch Drive
COOL CAT: Hun School softball player Abby Zucatti takes a swing in recent action. Last Friday, junior center fielder and co-captain Zucatti went 1-for-3 with an RBI double as Hun fell 5-3 to the Blair Academy. A day later, Zucatti picked up three walks and scored a run as the Raiders defeated Hopewell Valley 5-1 to improve to 9-5. Hun will competing in the state Prep A tournament this week where it is seeded third and slated to play at second-seeded Lawrenceville in a semifinal contest on May 14 with victor advancing to the title game on May 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Abby Zucatti’s heroics with her bat and glove helped spark the Hun School softball team as it waged a valiant fight against powerhouse Blair Academy last Friday.
With Hun trailing the Buccaneers 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning, junior center fielder Zucatti lashed a double to the fence to drive in Gigi Venizelos, who led off the inning with a single.
“I have been working really hard with hitting; I have been changing my swing a little bit just to make sure I get hard contact so I had confidence,” said Zucatti, noting that she had shortened her swing.
“It felt good. I knew that with Gigi getting on, if I get a powerful hit, it will get our momentum going.”
The Raiders seized momentum, tying the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the second on a run scoring triple by Venizelos. After Blair regained the lead with a run in the top of the third, Hun knotted the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth on a double by Jackie Drozd.
Zucatti helped keep the game tied at 3-3 with some fielding gems, making a leaping catch in the top of the fifth to start a double play and then throwing out a Blair runner at home in the sixth.
“I have been able to see the balls really well off the bat lately and I just shot right there to the ball,” said Zucatti. “I knew that girl was going home in the next inning.”
As one of Hun’s four team captains, Zucatti feels a responsibility to run the show in the outfield.
“I like being in charge of the outfield since I am a captain,” added Zucatti. “It has been good; I have felt I have been a leader for this team for a while. I feel it is a good influence on everyone.”
Zucatti’s heroics in the outfield, though, couldn’t keep Blair from prevailing as it produced back-to-back homers in the top of the seventh to pull out a 5-3 victory.
But with Hun having lost 6-0 at Blair on April 13, Zucatti saw the effort last Friday as a good step forward with the state Prep A tournament on the horizon. Hun is seeded third in the tourney and slated to play at second-seeded Lawrenceville in a semifinal contest on May 14 with victor advancing to the title game on May 16, likely at top-seeded Blair.
“Knowing that they beat Lawrenceville 9-0 and we only lost here 5-3, it really looks hopeful,” said Zucatti, who picked up three walks and scored a run as the Raiders defeated Hopewell Valley 5-1 last Saturday and improved to 9-5. “I really, really think we can do it.”
Hun head coach Kathy Quirk liked the resilience her team displayed in doing battle with the Buccaneers.
“We came back, they went ahead, we came back,” said Quirk. “I am disappointed that we lost but proud of what we did.”
Quirk was proud of the aggressive hitting she got from Venizelos, Zucatti, and Drozd against Blair.
“Gigi and Abby are two of my best players,” said Quirk. “Jackie had two hits; she has been starting to hit. We moved her down to the bottom of the order to generate things.”
Zucatti’s play on defense was one of the best things about Hun’s effort.
“Abby’s defense is great, she played a phenomenal game today with the catches and the throw to home,” said Quirk. “We did a nice job on defense.”
Looking ahead to the Prep A tournament, Quirk believes her squad can get the job done.
“The key is going to be our bats,” said Quirk. “We need Erin [Harrigan] to throw the ball hard and keep them off balance.”
Zucatti, for her part, is confident that the Raiders can keep playing well.
“I think just a few tweaks here or there; going into states on Tuesday, I really think we have it,” said Zucatti.
“We work hard and we need to start our mentality that we had in the middle of this game and have that right in the beginning.”