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LINCOLN -- This No. 9 batter delivered the No. 1 hit of her high school career on Friday afternoon.
Senior left fielder Marissa Walshâ€™s walkoff one-out single in the seventh inning delivered the run that gave Lincoln High a big 1-0 victory over Mount St. Charles Academy in their early showdown of Division I-North heavyweights at Saylesville Elementary School.
Walshâ€™s clutch hit settled a superb pitchersâ€™ duel between the Lionsâ€™ Alyssa McCoart and the Mountiesâ€™ Olivia Hendricks and gave her team their second win of the young season.
â€śWeâ€™re very happy with this win,â€ť noted Lincoln coach Jon Bruckner. â€śMount is a super-talented team thatâ€™s very well-coached. Theyâ€™ve proven it year after year; theyâ€™ve made their runs, and theyâ€™ve won our division and reached the championship. This was a good game to have early in the season and a great experience for these girls to have.â€ť
While Bruckner was pleased with the victory, he was ecstatic with the big hit he received from the last batter in his lineup.
Emily Bouthillette led the home half of the seventh with her second hit of the afternoon, a line single up the middle, and she moved into scoring position by hustling to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sarah Albanese.
That brought Walsh to the plate, but before she dug into the batterâ€™s box, Bruckner opted to insert freshman Casie Beauchemin as a courtesy runner for Bouthillette.
But Beauchemin didnâ€™t stay on second too long. On Hendricksâ€™ fifth pitch to Walsh, she bounced a fastball in the dirt. Catcher Alyssa Lanzi made a nice stop on the wild offering, but Beauchemin was still able to head into third with ease.
The Mounties then brought in their infield, and after Walsh fouled off a two-strike pitch to the backstop, she ripped her decisive single past the dive of shortstop Emily Hendricks and into center field to plate Beauchemin.
â€śIâ€™m so proud of Marissa,â€ť said Bruckner. â€śFour-year player, biggest hit of her career by far, kind of a sparkplug-type of player -- just very emotional and does a really good job just keeping everyone up and positive -- so everyoneâ€™s really excited for her. She really did a great job.â€ť
Walshâ€™s hit also made a well-deserved winner out of McCoart, who finished with a two-hitter that saw her struck out five batters, issue no walks, and allow just five batted balls to reach the outfield.
McCoart, who is heading to Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn. on a softball scholarship, was coming off a five-hit, six-strikeout effort in Wednesdayâ€™s season-opening 11-1 win over Smithfield High, but on Friday, she stepped her game up a few notches.
â€śShe was fantastic,â€ť remarked Bruckner. â€śShe was actually a little shaky on Wednesday, to be honest with you. She wasnâ€™t really happy and her stuff really wasnâ€™t moving, so we decided to come back with her. She really wanted it, and today, she came out and proved why sheâ€™s one of the top pitchers in the state.â€ť
Bruckner wasnâ€™t the only person who took note of McCoartâ€™s performance. MSC coach Cliff Matthews, whose team collected 11 hits on Wednesday in a season-opening 5-1 win over Cumberland High and ace hurler Bethany Paul, also gave credit to where it was due.
â€śAlyssa McCoart threw the ball better than Iâ€™ve ever seen her throw against us, thatâ€™s for sure,â€ť said Matthews. â€śHer stuff was working, and she kept our hitters guessing and little off-balanced. We werenâ€™t able to put the pressure on her that we did Wednesday against Bethany Paul, and thatâ€™s a credit to her.â€ť
The Mounties only got one runner past first base, and that came in their opening swings. Leadoff batter Taylor Messier lined McCoartâ€™s first pitch into left field for a single, and when it was misplayed and went to the fence, Messier was able to take two extra bases.
But McCoart stranded Messier on third by striking out the next batter she faced, getting the next one to sky out in the infield, and picking up the third out on a groundout.
The Mounties also got a strong start out of Hendricks, who limited the Lions to five hits. The Lions tried to rally off Hendricks in the first and sixth innings by putting runners on first and second with one out, but both times, Hendricks battled out of both jams.
â€śBoth teams got off to a rocky starts, but both teams rebounded and played pretty good softball from that point on,â€ť said Matthews. â€śBut (give) credit to them. Their hitters came through in the seventh.â€ť
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Olivia Hendricks and Alyssa Lanzi; Alyssa McCoart and Allie Dzialo.