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Haddon Heights reaches pinnacle of New Jersey scholastic softball with TOC title

Members of the Haddon Heights High School softball team celebrate after defeating Watchung Hills, 2-0, in the NJSIAA Softball Tournament of Champions final game played at Ivy Hill Park in Newark on Friday, June 10, 2022.
Members of the Haddon Heights High School softball team celebrate after defeating Watchung Hills, 2-0, in the NJSIAA Softball Tournament of Champions final game played at Ivy Hill Park in Newark on Friday, June 10, 2022.

NEWARK – They are a bunch of talented, humble, smart and self-proclaimed goofballs, but the Haddon Heights High School softball team will also be remembered as something else:

The best softball squad in the Garden State.

Members of the Haddon Heights High School softball team celebrate after defeating Watchung Hills, 2-0, in the NJSIAA Softball Tournament of Champions final game played at Ivy Hill Park in Newark on Friday, June 10, 2022.
Members of the Haddon Heights High School softball team celebrate after defeating Watchung Hills, 2-0, in the NJSIAA Softball Tournament of Champions final game played at Ivy Hill Park in Newark on Friday, June 10, 2022.

The Garnets earned the moniker and took South Jersey softball to new heights on Friday with a 2-0 victory over Watchung Hills in the Tournament of Champions final at Ivy Hill Park.

Haddon Heights became the first-and-only TOC titlist from South Jersey, claiming the lone championship in the final year for the event.

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On its way to completing the remarkable run through the postseason, the Garnets quickly became a favorite among the faithful from South Jersey, which took to social media throughout the playoffs to wish the Garnets well.

Members of the Haddon Heights High School softball team, front, celebrate next to members of the Watchung Hills High School softball team after Haddon Heights defeated Watchung Hills, 2-0, in the NJSIAA Softball Tournament of Champions final game played at Ivy Hill Park in Newark on Friday, June 10, 2022.
Members of the Haddon Heights High School softball team, front, celebrate next to members of the Watchung Hills High School softball team after Haddon Heights defeated Watchung Hills, 2-0, in the NJSIAA Softball Tournament of Champions final game played at Ivy Hill Park in Newark on Friday, June 10, 2022.

Haddon Heights head coach Michelle Schlichtig-Hastings wasn’t shy about her disdain for the TOC, but the Garnets’ run made her change her view.

“Now I am (a fan of the TOC),” she said. “From Day 1, I felt this team could accomplish it. That’s how much I believed in them.”

More: H.S. softball: Lots of buzz for Haddon Heights among young fans

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Sophomore Gracie Granate remembers the coach mapping out the journey for the team in March, one that wouldn’t end until the season’s final day in Newark.

“Even in the beginning, she was talking about big-time goals for us,” Granate said. “She got us to believe in ourselves. We were saying, we can do this.”

While much of the focus centered in the circle, where freshman phenom Sophia Bordi put together one of the most dominating seasons by a pitch in New Jersey history, the Garnets were more than just a one-player team.

Granate emerged as a productive cleanup hitter for the Garnets. After Bordi collected Heights’ first hit with a double in the fourth, Granate doubled in the first run.

Haddon Heights' Lydia Trailes, right, is congratulated by teammate Gianna Iuvara after Trailes hit a RBI double during the NJSIAA Softball Tournament of Champions final game between Haddon Heights and Watchung Hills played at Ivy Hill Park in Newark on Friday, June 10, 2022.   Haddon Heights defeated Watchung Hills, 2-0.
Haddon Heights' Lydia Trailes, right, is congratulated by teammate Gianna Iuvara after Trailes hit a RBI double during the NJSIAA Softball Tournament of Champions final game between Haddon Heights and Watchung Hills played at Ivy Hill Park in Newark on Friday, June 10, 2022. Haddon Heights defeated Watchung Hills, 2-0.

Junior Lydia Trailes provided a huge insurance run a frame later when she roped a double into the right-center field gap for a 2-0 lead.