NUTLEY, NJ — For the third straight season, the Nutley High School softball team, under longtime head coach Luann Zullo, has advanced to the championship game of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3, tournament.
Nutley, seeded second, defeated third-seeded South Plainfield, 9-1, in the semifinal round on Tuesday, May 24, at Yanticaw Park. The team regrouped after a tough 2-0 loss to Mount St. Dominic Academy in the championship game of the Essex County Tournament on Saturday night, May 21, at Mike Sheppard Sr. Field at Ivy Hill Park in Newark. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak.
Nutley will host No. 4 seed West Morris in the sectional final on Thursday, May 26, at 12:30 p.m. West Morris upset top-seeded Cranford, 2-1, in the other semifinal on May 24.
In the semifinal win, Nutley jumped out to a 4-0 win. Senior pitcher Fallyn Stoeckel went the distance, scattering six hits without a walk and striking out 13.At the plate, she went 2-for-4 with a single, a double, two runs scored and two RBIs. Lia DeMaio, a senior, went 3-for-4 with two singles and a double, and junior Gianna Lembo had a home run and three RBIs. Nikki Chicchetti, a senior, had two singles and an RBI. Mia DiPiano, a junior, and freshman Skye Stoeckel, Fallyn’s sister, each had a single. Sydney Hess, a senior, had a single and an RBI, and junior Robin Niland had an RBI. Nutley improved to 20-5 on the season.
Nutley is seeking redemption after losing in the 2019 and 2021 sectional finals to Chatham, 3-0, and Cranford, 4-0, respectively. The 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic.
Nutley is seeking its first sectional title since 2015 when it beat West Morris. Nutley also won the 2010 sectional title.
Nutley reached the ECT final for the second straight year. They also lost to Mount St. Dominic in last year’s final. Last season, Nutley finished 22-5 after losing in the sectional final.
Zullo, a NHS graduate, has been the NHS head coach since 1999.
Photos by Steve Ellmore.