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Methuen softball surges into North final

 LOWELL — Methuen softball coach Jason Smith couldn’t have drawn up a better game plan than the one his Rangers delivered in Thursday night’s Division 1 North semifinals.
 
With starter Jillian McCoy quieting the bats of top-seeded Concord-Carlisle and a defense that threw out three base runners, including two at the plate, fourth-seeded Methuen advanced to its first North final since 2015 with a 5-1 victory on Thursday at Martin Field.
 
“Yes it was,” Smith said when asked if it was as sweet as he imagined. “(Concord-Carlisle) is a fantastic opponent, and we knew we were going to get a battle. But my hat is off to my (Rangers).
 
“They are a really close-knit group that has each other’s back. They were ultra focused tonight. Between Jill and our defense, we were ready, and I was very pleased with the results.
 
The Rangers (20-3) will return to Martin Field to face seventh-seeded Newton North (18-4) in the Division 1 North final at 7 p.m. Newton North was a 2-1 winner over Medford in the earlier semi, at 7 p.m. Saturday. 
Methuen catcher Courtney Belanger twice magnificently blocked the plate while taking a pair of great throws from third baseman Emma McAlpine that nailed the game’s first would-be run in the fourth, and another potential run in the sixth. Belanger was also the middle assist on a play at third that began with a fly out to right fielder Kerri Horan.
“Courtney does a fantastic job of positioning herself in the right place,” Smith said. “We had some really good throws. We needed to make the good throws because they needed to be almost perfect in those situations, and we made the plays. Credit to our defense tonight for helping out their pitcher.”
Methuen opened the scoring in the third when Nyah Mazzone blasted a double and scored on an error. The Rangers added two in the fifth on an RBI ground out by Mazzone and a single by McAlpine. Mazzone also drove in a seventh-inning run with a single before scoring on Concord’s third error of the game.
Mazzone, a junior who bats third, junior clean-up hitter McAlpine and freshman lead-off Steph Tardugno have combined to go 15-for-26 in three postseason games with nine RBIs while scoring half  of Methuen’s 16 runs.
“We talked about moving up a little bit in the box,” Smith said. “But I think we were a little anxious early, too. We have some young players in the lineup ... so we had to calm the nerves a little bit. Once we got a few (hits), I think everyone saw we could do this.”
Sophomore hurler McCoy won her second playoff start, allowing five hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

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Softball, 06/14/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Seniors power Methuen softball to semis

METHUEN - Jason Smith only has two seniors on his softball squad, but it turns out the Methuen coach has quality in his pair.

While Kelsie McGonagle was throttling the Peabody offense, Taylor Cassidy provided her classmate all the support she would need with a pair of run-scoring singles as the Rangers advanced to the Division 1 North semifinals with a 4-1 victory Tuesday night over the fifth-seeded Tanners.

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Softball, 06/12/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Central run ends

 

Central Catholic's season-ending surge came to an end Saturday in the Division 1 first round against Arlington. The Raiders, who had won six straight to make the tournament and seven straight overall, held a 4-1 lead early and 5-4 edge after four innings but a couple of mental mistakes resulted in three Arlington runs in the fifth and resulted in a 7-6 loss. Abby Latham ended her career with a pair of RBIs for the Raiders (13-9). 

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Softball, 06/09/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Knights edged out

Samantha Ahlholm scattered seven hits and allowed just one earned run in a 2-0 loss to Newton North in the Division 1 North first round. North's Mia Patriacca fanned 11 in a 1-hitter. Alyssa Roderick had the lone hit for the Knights, who finished up at 16-6 with their first tourney win since 2007.

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Softball, 06/09/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Codair, Freitas shine

Pentucket saw its season come to an end on Friday despite a two hit performance with a run scored from Maddy Codair and another two base hits from Julie Freitas.

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Softball, 06/08/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Amesbury 8, Shawsheen Valley 3

Haley Catania struck out nine batters over seven innings to go with her 3-for-3 performance with four runs scored as Pentucket softball surged past Shawsheen on the road, 8-3. Emily O'Donnell hit two triples and drove in a run while Hannah Burdick drove in three runs on two hits.

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Softball, 06/08/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Whittier 8, Newburyport 0

Nicole Verrette struck out five in a 4-hit shutout to pitch Whittier past Newburyport in the Division 2 North first round. The 19-4 Wildcats were led offensively by Alyssa Michel (2 RBI), Kaley Thibault (triple, 2 runs, 2 hits) and Alicia Habib (2 hits). Kayle Hobbs starred in centerfield.

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Softball, 06/08/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Janco, Central roll

Sarah Janco drove in three runs and scored two more to lead No. 14 Central Catholic to an 8-5 victory over No. 19 Chelmsford in the Division 1 North preliminary round.
 
Kylie Frank and Abby Latham each added three hits and two runs scored for the Raiders, who will travel to face No. 3 Arlington on Saturday at 1 p.m.
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Softball, 06/07/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

North Andover softball earns first tourney win since 2007

NORTH ANDOVER — For so many years, Morgan Reitano dreamed of bringing North Andover softball a state tournament victory.
On Thursday, she helped snap a 10-year skid.
 
“We have been working so hard for this,” she said. “We haven’t been to states in so many years, and it’s been even longer since we had a win. I am so grateful to be a part of this!”
 
Reitano’s two-run single was a key strike as No. 10 North Andover beat No. 23 Billerica 4-1 in the Division 1 North first round.
The victory was the first postseason win for North Andover softball since the 2007 season. It is the Scarlet Knights’ first postseason appearance since 2013.
 
“It’s really exciting after all these years to do it,” said pitcher Samantha Ahlholm. “We were confident, but we knew Billerica was a strong team. We played a really good game, and it should be a lot of fun to play on Saturday,”
 
The Scarlet Knights (16-5) will next travel to face No. 7 Newton North (15-4) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
“This is awesome,” said Knights head coach Caitlin Flanagan, now in her sixth season. “This was the first tourney game for all of these kids, and it was important for them to not just make the playoffs but earn a win. We got a little rattled at first, but we settled down. We are very excited for Saturday. Newton North is a good team, but so are we.”
Leading the Knights on Thursday was a brilliant performance by Ahlholm.
The junior threw a complete-game two-hitter. She did not allow an earned run, struck out two, and only three times allowed balls out of the infield. 
“She was amazing as always,” said Reitano. “Everything was working for her. She stayed calm, cool and collected the whole game. She’s the best.”
Ahlholm allowed a bloop single in the second, and a single in the seventh that was quickly erased by a double play. The lone run came home on a throwing error.
“My screwball was really what was working for me,” said Ahlholm. “It was starting in the middle part of the plate and then breaking to the inside. I was also locating my fastballs. I was really feeling good in the second half of the game. I’m really excited.”
Devin McElhiney gave North Andover the lead with an RBI single in the first. 
After Billerica tied it up, the Scarlet Knights opened up the game in the third.
Alyssa Roderick led off the inning with a massive shot off the wall, and scored on a single by Olivia Rondeau. 
Carley Howe followed with a single, and Reitano drove two runs home with a line shot down the left field line.
“I thought our offense made a big difference,” said Flanagan. “We hit like we can. We became more aggressive, and less defensive. If we saw a pitch on the inside, we went after it.”
That was enough offense for Ahlholm. She allowed the one single in the seventh, but McElhiney quickly erased it by grabbing a line shot to first, then stepping on the bag for the game-ending double play.
“That was such a nice play,” said Ahlholm. “It was great to end the game on the best play of the game. It should be so much fun to play in the next round. It will be interesting to take on a team we have never played before.”

Back on top
North Andover softball’s win on Thursday was the first tourney victory for the program since 2007.
The Scarlet Knights’ last postseason win came in the 2007 Division 2 state semifinals, when they beat Coyle-Cassidy 3-1. The Knights then lost the Division 2 title game 2-1 to Hudson. The game was controversial, as it was halted after four innings due to thunder, and completed the following day. The Knights led 1-0 when it was stopped.

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Softball, 06/07/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Pitchers' duel

Greater New Bedford blanked Whittier, 2-0, in the state vocational large school finals. Nicole Verrette fired a five-hiter with seven strikeouts in defeat.

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Softball, 06/06/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars
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