Freshman second baseman Alyssa Clogston tags second base for a force out with shortstop Kendra Lonergan backing the play up during the third inning of Winnisquam’s 7-1 loss to Bow on May 30. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
June 04, 2012BOW – The little things made the difference in what proved to be the final game of the season for the Winnisquam Regional High School softball team.
The Lady Bears, seeded ninth in Division III, had eight hits in a strong offensive day, but couldn't push across the runs needed in a 7-1 loss to eighth-seeded Bow in the D-III preliminary round on May 30. Winnisquam ended its season 10-8 overall.
"In no way did I think they'd hold us to one run," admitted Winnisquam coach Kevin Dame. "I thought they'd put up runs but I thought we'd put up runs. I didn't think we were going to win 1-0, 3-0, 7-0. I thought it was going to be 5-4, 7-5, something like that. And looking at their scores I knew they could score some runs. But I can't believe we only had one run with as well as we hit it."
The top of the first inning seemed to be a microcosm of what the rest of the afternoon would bring for Winnisquam. Leadoff hitter Mackenzie Burdick singled up the middle to start things off. The senior took off on an attempted steal of second one pitch later, but a late jump and a perfect throw enabled Bow catcher Amy Ziehenski to gun down the speedy Burdick at second for the first out. Rachel Willcutt would follow with a sharp single to center, making things tougher to swallow for the Bears as they would have had two on with no outs right away. Instead, Bow pitcher Kylie Iasillo got a pair of groundouts to end the inning.
"We just didn't get any breaks," said Dame. "We hit the ball hard all day, sometimes at them. First time 'Kenzie's been thrown out all year. She got a bad jump and they made a perfect throw. Then we go and hit the ball hard two or three more times in the inning and we don't score because she's not out there anymore."
The host Falcons got on the board in the bottom of the first, as Ziehenski singled and came around to score on a Kasie Tucker RBI base hit for a 1-0 Bow lead. The Bears would shift their defense around to combat Bow's top of the lineup, as the Falcons' 1-2 hitters were both slap hitters. As a result, Winnisquam played with five infielders, putting one right next to pitcher Allie Trowsdale to cut off the swinging bunt attempts.
"I was a little scared because we hadn't seen them so I wasn't as aggressive as I normally would be but on slappers we've moved during the year," Dame explained. "Normally the outfielders come way in but they stayed a little bit deep. So we did have that scouting report. That's one thing that stinks about playing an unfamiliar opponent though is you don't know exactly what you're looking for with different tendencies."
Bow got a second run in the third inning when Ziehenski reached on a bunt single to start the frame. Maddie Stanley dropped down a sacrifice bunt that was fielded by Burdick and gunned to first baseman Elyssa Clairmont for the out. Ziehenski managed to get all the way around to third on the play however, catching the Bears asleep at the wheel. She came home one batter later when Tucker singled up the middle for a 2-0 lead.
"We missed a couple outs early," recalled Dame. "We work on that first to third (play) every single day and we had her but we just didn't get back to the bag. That was a run early that we shouldn't have conceded."
While the Bears were consistently putting the ball in play against Iasillo – she finished with just four strikeouts – the team finally got on the board in the top of the fifth. With two outs and nobody on, Burdick singled down the right field line and motored through first base on her way to a double. The throw into second base got away however, allowing the speedy senior to reach third with two outs. Willcutt came through one batter later, as the right fielder drilled a base hit back up the middle, plating Burdick and cutting the deficit to 2-1.
Bow regained the two-run cushion in the bottom of the fifth however, as Mikaela Dowd scored on a wild pitch after singling to lead things off. The Falcons scored four more runs in the bottom of the sixth, and Iasillo got the Bears in order in both the sixth and seventh innings to finish off the 7-1 win and advance to play top-seeded Campbell in the D-III quarterfinals.
Trowsdale pitched well in her first career postseason game, striking out two and not issuing a walk until the fifth inning.
"I don't think Allie had a walk until the fifth or sixth inning so we got what we needed from that," explained Dame.
Burdick finished 3-for-4 at the time of the Winnisquam order, while Willcutt added two hits in the Bears attack. Katie Bungay and Victoria Yasharian also had hits in the loss. After reaching the Final Four two years in a row, Winnisquam settled for 10 wins with an incredibly young team this spring.
"This might actually be the easiest year to sum up the season," said Dame afterwards. "I thought they improved every single day. We had a young team, we had a lot of question marks and we ended up with more regular season wins than last year. With a freshman pitcher, a freshman second baseman, freshman outfielder…losing our shortstop for a big chunk of the year – it was a helluva season. Hopefully everyone comes back and gets a little stronger and we should be one of the better teams (next year)."