Facing an 0-2 count with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Angela Gatto knew it was not the time for her to be selective at the plate. It was however, the perfect opportunity to make history.

“Oh-two, I’m not really picky for anything, I just got to go with it,” said Gatto. “It’s not even seeing something I like. It was just anything in the strike zone. I’m not one for outside pitches, but I got to take the chance in a moment that matters.”

Given an outside pitch, Gatto went the opposite way and launched a home run off the brick wall of the field house beyond the right field fence for a walk-off home run, giving Dayton a dramatic 6-5 victory over Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the Union County Tournament final at Kean University.

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The homer, Gatto’s second of the night, gave second-seeded Dayton (20-6) its first ever Union County championship. Eighth-seeded Scotch Plains-Fanwood (16-8), was seeking its first title since 1977.

“I knew it was out right away,” Dayton head coach Dave Rennie said. “There was no doubt about it.”

Doubt could have set in moments earlier, when with one out in the top of the seventh, Scotch Plains-Fanwood struck for four runs as Maddie Bogart, who reached base four times, stroked an RBI double, then came around to score on Angela Valente’s single up the middle. Two batters later and down to its final out, Emily Roof hit the first pitch she saw off the field house beyond the right field fence to tie the game at 5-all.

“(After they tied it) the message was, we’ve got the bottom of the seventh to just come away with a run,” said Rennie. “It’s a tie game and we’re in the driver’s seat because we have the last at-bat.”

Unlike a year earlier when a torn right ACL ended Gatto’s season before the county and state tournaments, the Bulldogs also had their star shortstop at full health and ready to show that he’s one of the state’s top infielders.

Already up 1-0, Gatto, who went 3-for-4 on the night, added to the lead in the second inning when she stole third base and came around to score when the throw bounced into left field. Gatto, who saved a run with a diving catch in the fourth inning, further added to the lead with a solo home run over the nets in left field that made it 4-1 in the fifth.

“Even when she wasn’t playing, people were asking about here, asking when she was coming back. And she proved why,” Rennie said. “She proved why.”

Last year, despite the season ending knee injuries to Gatto and second baseman Bella Pintado, Dayton made it to the Union County Tournament semifinals before falling to eventual champion Cranford.

“Our first words (after that loss) were ‘we’ll be back next year,” Gatto said. “Going to PT three times a week, everything (I did to rehab) just brought me to this moment.”

“I just knew this group was special and I knew that having them back this year (would be huge),” said senior catcher Kate Buckley who had three hits, including the 100th of her career. “I knew we were going to take it all.

“This year was our year. I didn’t expect anything else from us.”

While this tournament run may have felt 12 months in the making, Rennie knows it goes back far longer. A longtime elementary school teacher and administrator in Springfield, Rennie has known several of these players since they started playing softball together.

“This team is made up of players who have playing for a lot of years before high school,” Rennie said. “We’ve got parents who coached them when they were younger and that’s really where it all started. This county championship isn’t just a one-year thing. It’s not even a four year thing. It started when these kids were playing youth softball, started loving the game and eating, drinking, sleeping softball.”