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Verona senior right-hander Paige Ferrell puts her all behind a pitch during Thursday's SEC-Liberty Division showdown vs. Columbia at Cameron Field in South Orange. The Hillbillies' hurler tossed a superb 3-hitter with 7 strikeouts, no walks and one hit batter in 11-0 win in 6 innings. (Photos by Glenn Kross-

Verona's Caroline Chivily takes off for first base after delivering hit against Columbia in Thursday's SEC-Liberty action in South Orange.

Verona first-year head coach Angela Salisbury has to like what she has seen so far as her Hillbillies are off to superb 7-2 start, including sparkling 6-1 mark in the Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division.

Verona's Renata Primmer lays down a perfect bunt against Columbia

Columbia catcher Ally Krause tags out Verona baserunner at plate

Verona courtesy runner Julia Rigney slides into second base after she was forced out during Thursday's SEC softball contest with Columbia.

Verona shortstop Rebecca Russomano tags out Columbia baserunner at second base as Hillbillies do job on defense as well in 11-0 victory.

Ferrell Silences Columbia Bats
As Verona Cruises To 11-0 Win
By Sean Reilly

SOUTH ORANGE -- Paige Ferrell had every reason to expect a taxing afternoon when her Verona team traveled to face Columbia on Thursday.

The senior right-hander entered with a winning record over the previous three years against the Cougars, but each of those games had been close and all but one of those six prior matchups had been high-scoring affairs.

This year, both teams have also started well within the Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division, and each side had been scoring plenty of runs.

Form didn't hold, however, as Ferrell silenced Columbia's bats while throwing a three-hitter, and Verona's offense generated 15 hits and forced Columbia into committing five errors. The result was an 11-0, six-inning victory for the Hillbillies at Cameron Field.

The triumph improved Verona to 7-2 overall and 6-1 in the Liberty Division. Columbia, which had scored at least six runs in every prior game this spring, fell to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the division.

Ferrell struck out seven, walked none and hit one batter. The Hillbillies also played errorless ball.

"It's been different this year," she said. "We put in a lot of work during the preseason and it's paying off. We're making more plays, ones that last year we wouldn't have made." 

Verona wound up with a double-figure run total for the sixth time, and did so by making solid contact and then showing aggressiveness on the bases. 

It started in the top of the first, when leadoff batter Jackie Selby reached on error and continued straight to third on a bunt single by Meghan Yeates. Selby then scored on Caroline Chivily's ground out to second. 

After Ferrell pitched a tone-setting 1-2-3 bottom the inning, the Hillbillies scored two times in the second for a 3-0 lead. 

Rebecca Russomano led off with a double, was bunted to third by Renata Primmer and then scored when Olivia Haveron slapped a double just inside the foul line in shallow left field. Yeates, who ended 3-for-5 with three RBI, then singled across Haveron with two out. 

Hustle led to another run in the top of fourth. Haveron led off with a walk, and moved straight to third by outracing the covering left-fielder on a sacrifice bunt by Selby. Haveron then scored Verona's fourth run when Yeates grounded out to shortstop. 

"We came ready to hit, and we've worked on being aggressive by doing things like taking an extra base," said Angela Salisbury. Verona's first-year head coach. 

Verona added two more runs in the sixth. Kaitlyn Deo led off with a single and scored on Russomano's triple. Russomano then scored when Primmer hit a fly ball to right field that was dropped. 

The Hillbillies put the contest away by scoring five runs on six hits in the sixth. The outburst included RBI singles by Deo, Russomano, Haveron, Selby and Yeates. 

Haveron, the ninth batter in the Verona lineup, went 3-for-3 with a walk, Yeates was 3-for-5 and Russomano ended 3-for-4. Selby, Chivily and Deo all ended with two hits apiece. 

Ferrell, meanwhile, faced the minimum in four of the six innings and allowed only one Columbia runner to reach second. 

"My screwball and drop curve were working well and I was getting a low strike," she said. "I like to live low." 

"Paige is a senior now and has pitched well," Salisbury said. "We've had a really good start and this was a big win for us."

Notes: Both sides entered with wins over the same five teams in the Liberty Division (Verona has a second victory over Glen Ridge) and each has a loss against first-place Caldwell. ... Columbia was voted the No. 7 seed for the Essex County Tournament at the seeding meeting on Tuesday night, and will host 10th-seeded Millburn in the first round. Verona was given the ninth seed, and will play at eighth-seeded Bloomfield in the first round. ... Verona is now 5-2 against Columbia dating back to the 2012 season. Every one of those games was settled by two runs or less, with the losing team scoring at least five runs in all but one of those games. 

Follow Sean Reilly on Twitter @SeanReillyHS

Verona's Kaitlyn Deo (left) crosses home plate while scoring on triple delivered by Rebecca Russomano in sixth inning of Thursday's game.

Columbia catcher Ally Krause works hard behind the dish for Cougars

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