NUTLEY, NJ — The Nutley High School softball team captured the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3, tournament championship with a convincing 10-5 win over West Morris in the final at Yanticaw Park in Nutley on Thursday, May 26.
It was Nutley’s first state sectional title since 2015. They also won the sectional titles in 2006 and 2010. Luann Zullo has been the Nutley head coach since 1999. It was Nutley’s third straight appearance in the North 2, Group 3 sectional final, losing in 2019 and 2021. The 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic.
After fourth-seeded West Morris scored a run in the top of the first inning, second-seeded Nutley answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning, keyed by a bases-clearing double by senior Nikki Cicchetti.
Fallyn Stoeckel, a senior, pitched a five-hitter with five strikeouts and one walk. At the plate, Stoeckel had a double and an RBI. Sydney Hess, a senior, had a single and an RBI, and senior Lia DeMaio went 3-for-4 with a single, a triple and two runs scored. Skye Stoeckel, a freshman and Fallyn’s sister, had a single and an RBI, and junior Robin Niland went 2-for-4 with a single and a a double. Mia DiPiano, a junior, also drove in a run.
Nutley advanced to the state Group 3 semifinal against the North 1 sectional champion Roxbury, which defeated Morris Knolls, 7-0, on Friday, May 27, on a no-hitter by Hailey Errichiello.
The state Group 3 semifinal was a marathon game that took two days to complete, with host Roxbury outlasting Nutley, 2-1, in 13 innings.
The game began on Wednesday, June 1. Fallyn Stoeckel and Errichiello were locked in a pitchers’ duel. With the teams combining for just three hits and 20 strikeouts, the game remained scoreless in the top of the seventh and final inning with two outs when officials stopped the game due to thunder and lightning. After a lengthy delay, the game was suspended and resumed the next day in Roxbury.
In the top of the ninth, Nutley broke the scoreless tie on Fallyn Stoeckel’s RBI double. Roxbury answered with a run in the bottom of the inning to tie it.
Roxbury then won it on a walk-off RBI hit in the bottom of the 13th inning.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Nutley enjoyed one of its best seasons, finishing with a stellar 21-6 record. In addition to winning the state sectional championship, Nutley finished as the Essex County Tournament runner-up. In the ECT final, third-seeded Nutley lost to top-seeded Mount St. Dominic Academy, 2-0, on May 21 at Mike Sheppard Sr. Field on the campus of Seton Hall University at Ivy Hill Park. Mount St. Dominic scored both runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The following Nutley players earned all-Super Essex Conference–American Division honors, selected by the conference coaches.
First team: DeMaio and Fallyn Stoeckel.
Second team: Hess and junior Gianna Lembo.
Honorable mention: Niland and Nikki Cicchetti.
Photo Courtesy of NHS Athletics