The Winthrop High softball team will open play in the Division 3 North Sectional of the MIAA state softball tournament this Saturday, June 1, at 4 p.m. on the local field.
The Lady Vikings, who finished the regular season with a 14-6 record to earn the sixth seed in the 22-team D-3 North, drew a bye in the opening round. They will host the winner of a preliminary round contest between Northeast Regional Vocational School (the 11th seed with a 12-6 mark) and East Boston (the 22nd seed with a 10-10 record). That game is slated for today (Thursday).
The Lady Vikings won two of their final three contests last week to wrap up their regular season. One of the victories came against perennial Northeastern Conference power Lynn Classical in the season finale last Thursday at Breed Park in Lynn. Classical has been a nemesis of the Lady Vikings for the past few seasons, but this time the Winthrop girls turned the tables on the Lady Rams, rallying from three runs down to earn a 4-3 victory which knocked Classical out of first place in the NEC North Division and enabled Peabody to claim the 2013 NEC North title.
Classical coach Chris Warren said if you told him at the beginning of the year that his team would be 13-5 (11-5 NEC) at this point, given the class that graduated and the unknowns coming into the season, he would have been happy.
“But when it’s this late in the year and you’re chasing your fourth conference title in a row and it’s at the tip of your fingers, it (the loss) is tough to swallow,” Warren said.
Classical scored its three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 3-0 advantage and appeared to be in prime position to continue its hex over Winthrop and claim its fourth straight NEC North crown. But these 2013 Lady Vikings had other ideas and responded with a pair of markers in the top of the sixth to close the gap to 3-2.
Olivia Grillo singled and Jen Adamson and Liana Ferullo stroked back-to-back doubles to bring in Grillo. Christine Haskell then singled to bring in another run, but Classical escaped further damage when the next Winthrop batter lined into a double play to end the inning.
However, the Lady Vikings remained undaunted and pushed across two markers in the top of the seventh. Alli Scarfo reached on an error, Michelle Lasala singled, and both advanced on a sacrifice by Grillo. After Classical opted to intentionally walk the dangerous Adamson, who is Winthrop’s leading hitter, the Lady Ram strategy backfired when WHS pitcher Maura Lanza helped her own cause by driving in the tying and go-ahead runs. Maura then held off Classical in the final frame to earn the victory.
“The players and the coaches on both teams always look forward to this game,” said WHS Winthrop coach Dave Guffey. “The kids get up for it, the coaches get up for it. We’ve been competing against each other for so long. It’s always a great game.”
Winthrop had an easier time in its contest the day before on Wednesday with an 8-2 triumph over Saugus. The Lady Vikings jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third and never looked back. Lanza silenced the Sachem lineup in her five innings of work, allowing just four hits, no runs, and fanning eight. Adamson paced the Winthrop offensive attack with a 3-for-4 day, including a double, three RBI, and two runs scored. Freshman Grillo turned in another solid performance in her first year as a Viking (2-for-4, two runs scored) and Michelle Lasala (2-for-4 with a double, two RBI, and one run) also chipped in mightily to the winning effort.
Last Monday saw Marblehead, which came into the game with a 12-6 record, edge Winthrop in extra innings, 5-4, on the local field. Winthrop had taken a 2-0 lead in the first stanza on a two-run single by Lanza, but a two run homer by Marblehead knotted matters in the next frame.
After Marblehead forged ahead to take a 4-2 advantage, a clutch two-run double by Adamson in the bottom of the seventh sent the contest into extra innings. However, Marblehead ended matters in the eighth with the winning tally coming across on a sacrifice fly.
If Winthrop is successful Saturday, the next foe for the Lady Vikings in the quarterfinal round will be either Jeremiah Burke, the third seed, or the winner of the prelim contest between Tech Boston and Notre Dame of Tyngsboro. The Burke vs. Tech/Notre Dame game also is set to be played Saturday at 4 p.m.. The date, time, and location of the quarterfinal matchup are to be announced at a later date.
The Lady Vikings’ statistics for the regular season show that sophomore hurler Lanza turned in some impressive numbers. Maura tossed 125 innings and posted a 14-6 record. She allowed 144 hits and 28 earned runs for a sterling 1.18 ERA.
The top Lady Viking hitters were Adamson (26-for-59 for a .441 average with five doubles, a triple, a homer, 13 RBI, and 13 runs scored; Lasala (23-for-63 for a .319 avg. with three doubles, nine RBI, and seven runs); Grillo (20-for-51 for a .392 avg. with two doubles, a homer, six RBI, and 14 runs); and Liana Ferullo (20-for-62 for a .323 avg. with six doubles, five RBI, and 17 runs).