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Lady Panthers fall to defending state champs in quarters

MA finishes season 10-8

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Moultonboro Academy pitcher Maddy Greene throws a pitch during action against Profile in the Division IV quarterfinals on June 3. Greene struck out eight as the Lady Panthers fell, 4-0, to the defending state champions. Charlie Lentz - Littleton Courier. (click for larger version)
June 04, 2012
BETHLEHEM – It's never easy to watch your season come to an end. But this particular season marked a huge step forward for the Moultonboro Academy softball team.

After winning their first postseason game since 2003, the Lady Panthers fell victim to defending state champion Profile on June 3, as star pitcher Katelyn Austin allowed just two MA hits in a 4-0 Profile win in the quarterfinals of the D-IV tournament.

"I can't say enough how proud I am of this group," said MA coach Lindsay Bliznik. "I always tell them to be one percent better tomorrow. Well, we did 100 percent better getting over that hump and making it into the quarterfinals. We battled. Towards the end of the season, I think we learned a lot about how they have to play to be successful. They have the will to win now. Think about how many walk off games we had, or upsetting teams. We became mentally strong and I see it as a positive, positive season going forward. I hope we can get back to what Moultonboro softball is known for."

Austin, who pitched the Patriots to a state championship last spring beating Groveton in the finals, was outstanding in the circle and at the plate. With the teams trading zeroes on the scoreboard into the fourth inning, Austin drove in the first two runs of the game on a deep triple to center field off MA pitcher Maddy Greene. Profile would tack on one more in the frame to take a 3-0 lead after four.

"At that point, (Profile) was mostly hitting dribblers until the fourth," explained Bliznik. "Maddy's ball was dropping tonight, like a four-inch drop. We told her to keep it low and inside and she rocked it as an eighth-grader out there. There was a big crowd, she didn't get rattled. Just the position she's in, a quarterfinal game with the season on the line…she just kept throwing. I was hoping that (Profile would) get a little rattled and break having the pressure on them, we're the underdogs. But they didn't."

Courtney Delaney had MA's first hit of the game in the second inning, as she singled and moved up to second on a Kim Delaney sacrifice bunt. But Austin got out of the inning, keeping the sixth-seeded Panthers off the scoreboard.

"We were hitting (Austin) but Profile was fielding well," said Bliznik. "We only struck out five times against her but we hit a lot of infield pop flies, things like that. I think she's the best pitcher in the state. She's a junior, won it all last year as a sophomore. She was throwing high and outside all game. She knows our taller girls in the middle of our lineup will swing at that and she can hit that spot so they kept going there."

Trailing 3-0 in the sixth, freshman Rachel Bakas came through with a big double for the Panthers and stole third base. While MA hoped that would spark a comeback, as they've made a habit of crawling back into games all season long, Bakas would wind up being stranded at third to close out the frame. The third-seeded Patriots tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth to put things away.

Greene went the distance, striking out eight and allowing just three hits while walking two in an outstanding effort in the circle against the defending state champs.

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