Columbia HS softball team finishes another great season

Cougars are state sectional tournament runner-up after winning the crown last year

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MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Despite coming up short in its quest to defend its state sectional championship, the Columbia High School softball team still enjoyed another memorable season.

For the second straight season, the Cougars, under head coach Cliff Smith, played in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 state tournament championship game. But the third-seeded Cougars’ repeat title hopes were dashed with a 3-0 loss to 12th-seeded Morristown on Saturday afternoon, June 1, at Seton Hall University’s Ivy Hill Park.

The Cougars finished the season with an impressive 17-10 overall record.

Morristown scored a run in the top of the second inning and two runs in the third inning.

The Cougars defeated sixth-seeded Ridgewood, 10-0, in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, May 28, at Meadowland Park field. Sophomore Claire Shupe pitched a five-inning, three-hitter with four strikeouts and no walks. At the plate, Shupe had a double and two RBI.

Senior Ellie Martin had three singles and an RBI. Sophomore Abby Coulter went 2-for-3 with two singles and an RBI. Freshman Maya Bernstein went 2-for-3 with two singles. Senior Addison Secor went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Sophomore Lexi Kaplan drove in a run.

The Cougars upset No. 2 seed Passaic County Tech, 6-4, in the semifinals on Thursday, May 30, in Wayne. Trailing 4-3, Columbia scored one run in the top of the fifth inning and two runs in the sixth inning.

Junior Charlotte Klepesch went 2-for-4 with two singles, two RBI and a run scored; Coulter went 2-for-3 with a single, a double and a run scored; Secor had a triple and two RBI; Shupe had a triple and an RBI, sophomore Lexi Kaplan had a single and an RBI; and senior Sam Stein, Bernstein, Martin (one run scored) and senior Maisie Pietruski each had a single.  

Shupe went the distance, scattering six hits with 10 strikeouts and one walk. 

The Cougars had eight seniors on the team this season. The other seniors are Zoe Cartania, Mariel Amador, Keira Sims and Jordan Juter.

Last season, the Cougars defeated Livingston in the sectional final in Livingston and finished with a 21-10 overall record.

Photos by Steve Ellmore