LINCOLN -- This No. 9 batter delivered the No. 1 hit of her high school career on Friday afternoon.
Senior left fielder Marissa Walshâs 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.
Walshâs 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.
âWeâre very happy with this win,â noted Lincoln coach Jon Bruckner. âMount is a super-talented team thatâs very well-coached. Theyâve proven it year after year; theyâve made their runs, and theyâve 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
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 batterâs box, Bruckner opted to insert freshman Casie Beauchemin as a courtesy runner for Bouthillette.
But Beauchemin didnât 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.
âIâm so proud of Marissa,â said Bruckner. âFour-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 everyoneâs really excited for her. She really did a great job.â
Walshâs 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 Wednesdayâs season-opening 11-1 win over Smithfield High, but on Friday, she stepped her game up a few notches.
âShe was fantastic,â remarked Bruckner. âShe was actually a little shaky on Wednesday, to be honest with you. She wasnât really happy and her stuff really wasnât moving, so we decided to come back with her. She really wanted it, and today, she came out and proved why sheâs one of the top pitchers in the state.â
Bruckner wasnât the only person who took note of McCoartâs 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.
âAlyssa McCoart threw the ball better than Iâve ever seen her throw against us, thatâs for sure,â said Matthews. âHer stuff was working, and she kept our hitters guessing and little off-balanced. We werenât able to put the pressure on her that we did Wednesday against Bethany Paul, and thatâs a credit to her.â
The Mounties only got one runner past first base, and that came in their opening swings. Leadoff batter Taylor Messier lined McCoartâs 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.
âBoth teams got off to a rocky starts, but both teams rebounded and played pretty good softball from that point on,â said Matthews. âBut (give) credit to them. Their hitters came through in the seventh.â
Mount St. Charles 000 000 0â0-2-3
Lincoln 000 000 1â1-5-2
Olivia Hendricks and Alyssa Lanzi; Alyssa McCoart and Allie Dzialo.