The Winthrop High softball team advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Division 3 North Sectional of the MIAA state softball tournament with an 8-1 victory over Northeast Regional Vocational School in a first round contest that was played Saturday at the localÂ field.
The Lady Vikings originally were set to host Notre Dame Academy of Tyngsboro Monday in the quarterfinal matchup, but the rain forced postponement of that encounter to yesterday (Wednesday) as the Sun-Transcript was going to press. If the Lady Vikings emerged victorious, they would meet Whittier Tech today (Thursday) in the semifinals at Martin Field in Lowell.
The Winthrop girls entered the tourney as the sixth seed in the D-3 North on the strength of their 14-6 regular season record, while Northeast Regional came in as the 11th seed with a 13-7 mark.
Saturdayâ€™s blistering sun and heat in the 90s saw the Lady Vikings get off to a slow start out of the gate. Winthrop had some scoring chances in the first and second innings thanks to aÂ few hits and a Northeast error,.Â but could not get into the scoring column.
However, in the third frame Michelle Lasala led off with a double and Olivia Grillo walked. After both moved up on a passed ball, Michelle stole home on another passed ball with Olivia taking third. A ground out by Jenny Adamson to second allowed Grillo to scoot home for a 2-0 Winthrop lead.
WHS pitcher Maura Lanza meanwhile, had mowed down the Northeast lineup, striking out the first nine enemy batters she had faced. Maura made her only pitching mistake of the game in the fourth when the NE lead off hitter, Hughes, caught up to a fastball that got too much of the plate and deposited it over the centerfield fence to cut the Winthrop lead to 2-1.
However, the Lady Vikings put the contest away in the fifth. Lasala once again got the rally started with a her second hit of the game with one out. A base on balls to Ali Scarfo (who had replaced the injured Grillo) and a base hit by Adamson loaded the bases. That set the table for Liana Ferullo, who blastedÂ a towering shot that everyone thought was a no-doubter. But as luck would have it; the ball hit the top of fence and bounced back into the field.
But with the Northeast outfielderâ€™s throw to third to get Adamson off-line and sailing into the dugout, Liana was awarded home to clearing the bases for a 6-1 Lady Viking advantage.
Winthrop added two more tallies in the sixth with Lasala (2-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI on the day) and Ferullo (who also was 2-for-4 with three ribbies and a run) delivering the key hits.
Lanzaâ€™s heat from the pitcher circle was as hot as the weather. Maura allowed just two hits and two walks while fanning 14 in a superb tournament performance by the dynamic sophomore.
Although the quarterfinal foe, 14th seeded Notre Dame (15-7 entering the game), blitzed its first two tourney rivals, Tech of Boston and Jeremiah Burke (the number three seed in the North) by scores of 13-0 and 15-0, the ladies from Tyngsboro also had many contests during the regular season in which they yielded large numbers of runs. The Lady Vikings thus should have a good chance at doing some damage at the plate.
Whittier, the semifinal foe today if the Lady Vikings are successful, came into the tourney seeded 10th with a 14-6 record. The Haverhill school has had a nice tourney run, defeating Watertown, 14-10; Georgetown, 5-2; and then Mt. Alvernia in its quarterfinal encounter, 4-3.
The D-3 North championship will be played at Lowellâ€™s Martin Field, most likely on Saturday. The semifinal on the other side of the D-3 North bracket has Matignon meeting St. Maryâ€™s of Lynn, one of which will be the potential foe for the Lady Vikings if the Winthrop girls continue to be successful.
Four Lady Vikings named NEC all-stars
Four members of the Winthrop High softball team were named to the all-star team of the South Division of the Northeastern Conference at the coachesâ€™ meeting last week. The quartet are:
Senior captain Liana Ferullo, who will be playing at Bentley College next year. Liana had a .323 batting average with five doubles and 17 runs scored. Liana primarily roamed centerfield for the Lady Vikings and had an overall fielding percentage of .929 withÂ 23 putouts and 16 assists, 10 of which were from the outfield;
Junior Jenn Adamson led the team with a .441 BA with five doubles, a triple, a home run, 13 RBI, and 13 runs scored. She also anchobitsored the Lady Viking defense from her catcherâ€™s post where Jenn had 15 putouts and 11 assists, throwing out five of eight attempted steals, with a fielding percentage ofÂ .963;
Sophomore pitcher Maura Lanza did it all for Winthrop, both from the pitcherâ€™s circle and at the plate. Maura had a 14-5 record, tossing 125 innings with a 1.18 ERA. She allowed just 21 earned runs and 105 hits while walking only 28 and fanning 144, breaking the WHS strikeout record for a sophomore that had been set by Alex Ferri three years ago. Maura also batted .302 with 10 RBI; and
Michelle Lasala, who hit .319 with three doubles, 12 runs scored, and nine ribbies. Michelle made 35 putouts and had 33 assists for a fielding percentage of .861.
In addition, Coach Dave Guffeyâ€™s squad won the Sportsmanship Award.