Eagles punch ticket to Final Four
Softball girls knock off Milford Spartans in quarterfinals
|LAUREN WHITE connects during Class I quarterfinal action against Milford on Saturday. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)|
June 05, 2010NORTH CONWAY — For the second game in a row, the visiting team didn't arrive until minutes before the scheduled start of a playoff game in North Conway and for the second time in a row, the Kennett softball team fell behind in the first inning.
However, for the second time in a row, the Eagles came back and picked up the win, earning a berth in the Class I semifinals with an 8-3 win over Milford on Saturday, June 5.
The Spartans showed up at 12:50 p.m. for the 1 p.m. scheduled start and when the teams took the field for the start, the visitors were able to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
A walk, an error and a fielder's choice put two runners in scoring position with one out for the visitors. A bloop hit plated one run and a weak hit up the middle drove in another run for a 2-0 Milford lead before Eagle pitcher Whitney Roberts got a pop up and a grounder to end the inning.
Kennett got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Alyssa tripled to deep centerfield and came home to score when Roberts reached on an error. One out later, Lauren White singled, but courtesy runner Karli Olson was gunned down trying to take third on White's base hit, ending the Kennett threat.
Marissa Strong made a great play of a line drive to give her team a defensive lift in the top of the second inning, but the Eagles couldn't capitalize with any runs in the bottom of the inning.
Milford put its leadoff runner on with a walk in the top of the third and a wild pitch moved her to second. Roberts got two strikeouts, but another wild pitch put the runner at third base. However, the Eagle pitcher got a pop up to shortstop Amber McPherson to end the inning.
Kennett then came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. Strong reached on an error, but was forced by a grounder to short by McPherson. Chick followed with a base hit, but she was forced at second when Roberts grounded to shortstop. Olson took over as the runner and stole second and a double by Faye Roberts plated two runs to give Kennett a 3-2 lead. White walked, but was stranded there as the inning ended.
Whitney Roberts struck out all three Spartans who stepped to the plate in the top of the fourth inning and in the bottom of the frame, the Eagles added another run. Sam Janos led off with a base hit and one out later, Strong walked. One out later, Chick reached on an fielder's choice to load the bases and a pickoff error allowed Janos to score for a 4-2 lead.
Strong made another solid defensive play at third base to open the top of the fifth and the Eagles came back with three more runs in the bottom of the inning.
Faye Roberts was hit by a pitch to open the frame and White followed with a base hit. Bishop grounded to shortstop to force White at second and Jordyn Moore took over for Bishop on the basepaths. Janos bunted and reached, loading the bases for Brie Roberts, who promptly lined a double down the right field line to plate all three runners and give Kennett a 7-2 lead. One out later, McPherson had a base hit, but the inning ended with a grounder to second.
Milford put its leadoff batter on in the sixth, but couldn't plate the run and Kennett added some insurance in the sixth.
With two outs, White was hit by a pitch and Olson ran at first. After a wild pitch, Bishop had a base hit to make it 8-2.
Milford rallied in the top of the seventh, getting a leadoff hit. After a strikeout, a base hit and an infield hit loaded the bases. McPherson made a nice play on a grounder to shortstop, though the runner on third did come home. The final batter lined to McPherson and the Eagles had their ticket to the semifinals.
"That last inning, they hit a couple balls where people weren't," coach Peter Ames said. "Teams are going to do that."
However, Ames was pleased that his team got the big hit when they needed to. The veteran coach pointed to Brie Roberts' three-run double in the fifth as the big blow.
"Brie's hit opened it up a bit," Ames said. "That was the key offensively."
The Eagle coach also pointed to the insurance run in the sixth inning as being more important than it looked.
"Six runs is a lot different than five or four runs," he said. "They've got to put a lot of people to the plate to score six runs."
He was also pleased with his team's defensive efforts, praising Strong and McPherson for their solid play on the left side of the infield.
"We do what we do," Ames said. "We are a hitting team that plays some defense and has pretty good pitching.
"If we hit, we're going to be in games," he continued. "We're always going to give up a couple of runs."
He also noted that it is also tough for other teams to fully shut the Eagles down as well.
"It's nice to get through the two games at home and get to Concord and see what happens there," Ames stated. "We'll take another step, hopefully another two steps."
The Eagles were in action after deadline on Tuesday, June 8, at Concord's Memorial Field against fourth-seeded Souhegan in the Class I semifinals. The Sabers knocked off St. Thomas in the quarterfinals.
The Class I finals are set for Saturday, June 12, at 5 p.m., also at Memorial Field in Concord. If the Eagles win, they will face either the second-seeded Bishop Brady Giants or the 11th-seeded Coe-Brown Bears, who were meeting in the other semifinal game.
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