(Lowell) My mother used to have to tell me to come in out of the rain. During thunder and lightning I didn’t have to be told!
That’s why, after 3 ½ innings I left the St. Mary’s/Rockport game as it went into it’s second delay. The first delay was over a downpour that necessitated work on the infield after it ended. The second delay was over dark clouds, rumbles of thunder and lightning.
When I saw the players heading for their buses, as I sat it my car during the second delay, I was not optimistic about the game resuming. So I headed for home…….and missed the final 3 ½ innings of St. Mary’s 8-1 win over Rockport in the Division 3 North softball semi-finals on Friday afternoon/evening.
When I left after 3 ½ innings, the Spartans had a commanding 5-0 lead and St. Mary’s starter Brooke L’Abbe had retired nine Vikings in a row after leadoff batter Hannah Lorden’s ground single in the first.
After being retired one-two-three in the first inning St. Mary’s displayed it’s long game with doubles in each of the next three innings.
Two of those doubles (Kaleigh Finigan and Brooke L’Abbe) were hit over outfielders’ heads. The other was a “speed” double by Alison Butler. Those extra-base hits drove in four of the five Spartan runs.
Rockport threatened in the first. Hannah Lorden singled and got as far as third before catcher Mollie Watson ended the inning flying to left.
Rockport (16-5) finishes with their best softball record in school history. They’ll have some key players to replace, especially four-year pitcher Kristin Turner, but several of the Cape Ann League’s best (shortstop Gabby Muniz and catcher Mollie Watson) have Viking season’s ahead.
St. Mary’s resume is enough to scare most teams. They were state champs in 2009 & 2010. They’ve been D3 North champs for four straight seasons. Any losses they have are usually to higher division opponents.
St. Mary’s will face league rival Matignon in the final on Sunday at 1PM at Martin Field in Lowell. (My intentions are to be there……..for the whole game!)
The Spartans have defeated Matignon two of the three times they played each other this season. The 9-7 Matignon win on May 4th would need some sort of asterisk beside it since Spartan slugger Kaleigh Finigan didn’t play.
Two things that caught my attention during this game: (1) St. Mary’s outfielders play extremely shallow, and (2) Rockport’s first baseman (Kendra Adams) and third baseman (Kayla Parisi) were halfway between their bases and home during the at-bats of the first two Spartan batters.
The Spartan outfielders were very fast so even if a ball went over their heads the runner would only get a double. During the three Rockport innings I saw, the Spartan outfielder never had to move back once.
That playing-close routine at first and third is worrisome to me. I would like it a lot better if the fielders were wearing protective masks, but they weren’t. I know that the theory for the positioning is to have to cover less ground on a bunt but without a mask it’s way too risky for my taste.
(All of the pictures above and below enlarge if you click on them.)