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Triple play, sixth-inning rally help Mount top Novans

April 17, 2014

Mount St. Charles runner Briana Castro (15) is all smiles as she returns to her bench after scoring a run in the home half of the sixth inning of Thursday afternoon’s Division I showdown against crosstown foe Woonsocket. Castro collected a two-run single earlier in the inning to fuel a four-run rally and help the Mounties post a 5-2 victory. The Woonsocket catcher is Brittany Girard. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN

WOONSOCKET — On an afternoon when Mount St. Charles pulled off an astonishingly spectacular triple play, head coach Cliff Matthews and Co. doubled its pleasure with a solid 5-2 victory over city rival Woonsocket at the upper campus field Thursday.
The feat came with the Mounties guarding a tenuous 1-0 advantage in the top of the fourth inning. It had opened with junior Taylor Pawlina’s ability to reach on a shortstop bobble, and classmate Amanda Nunez moved her to second with a hard single down the left-field line.
Sophomore No. 3 batter Brittany Girard then slammed a line drive to straightaway center, one seemed destined to hit turf, but senior Emily DiCecco made a stunning shoestring catch. She immediately threw to freshman second baseman Taylor Newcomb to get Pawlina stuck off the bag.
Newcomb then fired to junior Rachel Coia at first to post the rare triple killing, but that was only part of the story.
After the Villa Novans finally knotted it at 1-1 in the top of the sixth, MSC exploded for four runs in the back half and eventually sealed the triumph.
“I spent six years as a volunteer assistant and this is my eighth year as the varsity coach, so – to answer your question – no, never; I’ve never seen a triple play,” Matthews grinned after his squad improved to 2-2 in Division I action. “What I was thinking afterward was the whole thing started with a superb catch in center.
“We work on fundamentals all the time, so we know what to do with the ball,” he added. “What impressed me was that the girl at second is a freshman, but she knew right away she had doubled off the runner at second. She also didn’t hesitate in throwing to first.
“It was quite a play.”
That’s for sure. Still, credit for the win has to go to senior righty Kylie Finnerty, who scattered just five hits and two walks while whiffing eight.
Nunez didn’t pitch too badly herself, as she yielded 11 hits in all with one free bag and seven strikeouts. She also was the lone Villa Novan to collect two hits (2-for-3, RBI).
With the Mount maintaining that 1-0 advantage in the top of the sixth, sophomore Taila Landry reached on an infield throwing miscue, then hustled to second on senior Varsana Schobel’s sacrifice bunt. Pawlina then crushed a shot to deep center, though DiCecco earned her second stellar catch of the day for the second out.
Nunez then plated Landry after pounding a sure two-bagger far over left fielder Sarah Kennedy’s head, but Kennedy responded with aplomb. She threw to senior shortstop Briana Castro, who relayed the throw to third baseman Marissa Santoro (another frosh).
The latter applied the tag to Nunez, who had tried to spin it into a triple, and the inning ended with the 1-1 deadlock.
Matthews attempted to ignite his troops with some enthusiastic talk, and his girls responded. Freshman Shea Kelleher started the sixth off with a single to center, and classmate Newcomb followed with an opposite-field hit to right, allowing Kelleher to hustle to third.
Nunez fanned Santoro, but Kennedy ripped a single down the left-field line to score Kelleher with the go-ahead run. And, with Newcomb on second courtesy of a robbed bag, Castro pushed home both with a ground hit to right-center.
She eventually scored after DiCecco beat out a bunt single and the Novans threw wildly to third.
Woonsocket nevertheless didn’t fold easily, as Girard knocked a single to open the seventh. Finnerty registered two quick outs, though she walked Kayla Acheson before fellow frosh Maddie Laplante drove in Girard with a hit to left.
In the end, Finnerty struck out Marcet to end it.
“That was a great play by the center fielder, and we had a baserunner who knew what she was doing, another who’s inexperienced,” offered WHS mentor Dan Belisle, whose team fell to 0-4. “The girl on second went a little too far off base, and the one on first couldn’t get back quick enough, so what can you say?
“I’m still proud of my girls and how they hung in there,” he continued. “We got that run in the sixth to tie it; we also managed some hits in the seventh. I still like the way we battled. Those were rookies there at the bottom of the order, and they did a great job reaching.
“But you have to give credit to Mount. They hit the ball in the sixth; they earned the win.”
Pawlina did start the Woonsocket first with a walk, but freshman catcher Skylar O’Connell threw her out attempting to steal second before Finnerty recorded a pair of flyouts.
The Mounties used that momentum in the bottom half when Castro led off with an opposite-field single, took second on DiCecco’s sacrifice bunt and raced home on junior Taylor Dill’s pummeled single to center. She later moved up on senior Kristen Rodrigues’ bloop hit to left, but the Novans ended the surge with two quick outs.
Woonsocket began three of its first four frames with a baserunner, but couldn’t convert any into a run. That included the fourth and the resulting triple play.
Castro closed at 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs, while Dill went 2-for-4 with an RBI; Rodrigues 3-for-4; Kelleher 1-for-1 with a run; and Kennedy 1-for-2 with a RBI and a run.
“Emily DiCecco is a great center fielder; there’s no other way to say it,” Matthews noted. “She came up big for us. I always tell them, ‘Know where the wind’s blowing. It was blowing out, but she made that great catch (on Pawlina’s fly in the sixth).
“I’d also like to point out my freshman catcher; Skyler threw out two baserunners, so it was a terrific outing all the way around. This was memorable, no question about it.”

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