NORTH SMITHFIELD -- Head coach Tom Bourgeois had told his lone starting senior, Sidra Ethier, that if she had to miss North Smithfield Highâs home clash against Woonsocket on Monday, he more than understood.
After all, Ethier â ranked second in her class â was to accept a National Honor Society award later that afternoon, and he knew she had to properly prepare for the fete.
âShe wanted to be here,â Bourgeois stated. âShe told me, âNo, Coach. Iâm playing! Itâs our Senior Day, and Iâm going to be a part of it.ââ
Thanks to her teammates, Ethier had plenty of time to ready herself for the scholastic event.
Sophomore righty Karissa Carlton whirled a stellar four-hitter with just a walk and nine strikeouts while the Northmen bashed 11 hits â including five two-baggers â to cruise past the Villa Novans, 10-0, in a âmercy rule-shortened,â five-inning affair at Pat Dowling Memorial Field.
With the Northmen ahead, 9-0, in the back half of the fifth, Bourgeois huddled his troops and told them they had to register one more run for umpires to enact the Interscholastic Leagueâs 10-run âmercy rule.
âSidraâs got her National Honor Society event at 6 (oâclock), so we have to get one across,â he implored. âLetâs do it!â
The girls didnât disappoint. Sophomore leadoff batter Jess Tremblay poked a bloop single to short left, junior Jaime LaFazia ripped a ground hit up the middle and her classmate, Megan Brodeur, drilled a double to left to plate Tremblay.
Call it a âwalkoffâ hit, as the umpiring crew declared the tilt over.
With the triumph, Bourgeoisâs crew not only improved to 12-3 in Division II-North action but also clinched the league crown. It still must travel to Scituate for its season finale today at 3:45, but â win or lose â it owns that II-North title.
Woonsocket fell to 10-5.
âThis is so satisfying, and the kids are really excited about it,â Bourgeois grinned while his players celebrated with pizza and soda under a makeshift canopy, that necessary due to the rains that pelted the field just minutes before.
âLast year, we finished second (in league) behind Ponaganset, and the year before, we only had three or four wins,â he added. âSidra was on two of my teams that only won three or four each season, so Iâm really happy for her. She deserves this; so do the other girls.â
Ethier may have finished a modest 0-for-2 with a base-on-balls, but Brodeur went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a whopping five RBI and a run scored and Tremblay closed at 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI and three runs.
LaFazia finished 2-for-4 with a trio of runs (she also reached on a pair of miscues), while freshman Julia Cloutier went 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI and classmate Samantha Archambault 1-for-2 with two runs.
âKarissa was right on it (Monday),â Bourgeois noted. âSheâs been getting stronger and stronger as the season wore on. Sheâs been averaging about 12 âKâsâ a game, so she was more than on pace to do the same.
âMegan hit the ball great, and Jaime, sheâs been on fire lately,â he continued. âI donât think sheâs made an out in her last three games.â
The Villa Novansâ Cailyn Marcoux doubled to lead off the contest, though Carlton got the next three with relative ease.
In the bottom of the first, North Smithfield registered two. LaFazia knocked a one-out single to center, and Brodeur drove a ground single down the left-field line before Cloutier walloped a double over left-fielder Varsana Scholbelâs head to plate both.
The Northmen manufactured another three in the second when Archambault poked an infield hit and took second on an infield overthrow to first, then robbed third. Tremblay reached on another miscue, scoring Archambault, and LaFazia took first on yet another infield bobble.
Brodeurâs bloop single down the left-field line brought in both Tremblay and LaFazia as the hometowners snared a 5-0 advantage.
In the third, NS tacked on four more. Woonsocket freshman Amanda Nunez walked the first three batters â including Angela Pasquarelli, Archambault and Angela Barber. Pasquarelli was thrown out at home after senior Kelsey Boucher recovered a wild pitch and threw to Nunez covering the plate, but Archambault scored on another wild offering; thatâs when head coach Dan Belisle replaced Nunez with reliever Marcoux , who on her first delivery allowed Tremblay a double to left, one that delivered Barber.
LaFazia reached on one more fielding error, and Brodeurâs double to the left-center gap knocked in Tremblay and LaFazia before Marcoux ended the flurry.
All told, Nunez yielded six hits, seven runs (five earned) and four walks while whiffing one; she also had four wild pitches in 2 1/3 frames. On the positive side, Marcoux finished with two hits, the only others Amanda Alexion and Ally Carter back-to-back singles in the fourth.
âWhen you show up not ready to play a big game, the result is always easy to predict,â Belisle stated afterward. âWe got off to a bad start, and it just snowballed from there.â