by Andrew Garda

The Montclair Kimberley Academy softball team pulled above .500 on Monday as they rallied back from a 4-3 deficit to beat West Orange 5-4.

The Cougars’ (3-2, 3-0) rally was set off by a double in the sixth by senior Jacyln Kemly, which drove in freshman Maddie Golodner (who was acting as a courtesy runner for sophomore pitcher Geena Pacifico) to tie the game at 4.

After Pacifico forced the last two West Orange hitters to fly out and strand runners on first and second, sophomore Amanda Mack walked and then stole second base. Freshman Anne Turvey then walked to the plate with two outs and on the first pitch sent a rocket to the outfield for a double which drove Mack home for what would be the winning run.

“She was awesome,” head coach Jessica Sarfati said of Turvey after the win. “I called a timeout because I knew that...sometimes what’s been happening with her is that she is over-anxious and pulls her hips too soon, but not her hands. That’s something we’ve been working on, so I wanted to remind her of that right before she went up.”

The reminder seemed to be the right thing at the right time, though Sarfati said that Turvey is very good at making her own adjustments.

“Honestly, she makes adjustments so well, that’s why we have her in that spot. She [switches] between a four and a five consistently,” Sarfati said.

Pacifico retired the side in the bottom of the seventh with a little help by a West Orange baserunning mistake, as the runner forgot to tag up on a fly out and was called out at first base after she had advanced illegally to second.

The win helped the Cougars get back on track after losses to Montclair High School and the Peddie school.

Sarfati had a lot of praise for her whole team.

“Just from top to bottom in the lineup today, everybody did a fantastic job. Great teamwork,” the coach said, before shifting her focus to Pacifico. “Geena pitched awesome. Probably the best game she’s thrown this season.”

The most impressive thing about the sophomore’s day was how she handled adversity, particularly a grand slam she allowed in the fourth inning which gave the Mountaineers a 4-3 lead.

“We’re working with her on spots right now, and cutting down the walks,” Sarfatis said. “And I said to her, ‘you know what? It’s not a big deal, you hit your spot, that’s all you can do. I’m happy as long as you get your spot. I know we’re going to be able to come back and I want you to be able to think of this like it’s 0-0 again.’ And that’s what she did. She came right back with strikes. Not every pitcher can do that, and that kept us in the game. I’m very proud of her.”

Sarfati said she was glad to get the game played, as it was a key conference game. That was something which looked unlikely as heavy rain fell throughout the morning. The skies cleared long enough for West Orange’s turf field to dry out and while rain threatened a few times, the game was able to be played.

The Cougars didn’t have much time to celebrate their win as they faced Caldwell on Tuesday, falling 14-3. Now they will have their first home game of the season on Thursday against Glen Ridge, followed by a matchup on Saturday against Hillside.