WOONSOCKET â 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 Pawlinaâs 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.
âI spent six years as a volunteer assistant and this is my eighth year as the varsity coach, so â to answer your question â no, never; Iâve never seen a triple play,â Matthews grinned after his squad improved to 2-2 in Division I action. âWhat I was thinking afterward was the whole thing started with a superb catch in center.
âWe work on fundamentals all the time, so we know what to do with the ball,â he added. âWhat 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 didnât hesitate in throwing to first.
âIt was quite a play.â
Thatâs 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 didnât 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 Schobelâs 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 Kennedyâs 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 didnât 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.
âThat was a great play by the center fielder, and we had a baserunner who knew what she was doing, another whoâs inexperienced,â offered WHS mentor Dan Belisle, whose team fell to 0-4. âThe girl on second went a little too far off base, and the one on first couldnât get back quick enough, so what can you say?
âIâm still proud of my girls and how they hung in there,â he continued. âWe 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.
âBut you have to give credit to Mount. They hit the ball in the sixth; they earned the win.â
Pawlina did start the Woonsocket first with a walk, but freshman catcher Skylar OâConnell 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 DiCeccoâs sacrifice bunt and raced home on junior Taylor Dillâs pummeled single to center. She later moved up on senior Kristen Rodriguesâ 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 couldnât 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.
âEmily DiCecco is a great center fielder; thereâs no other way to say it,â Matthews noted. âShe came up big for us. I always tell them, âKnow where the windâs blowing. It was blowing out, but she made that great catch (on Pawlinaâs fly in the sixth).
âIâd 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.â