Lincoln third baseman Sarah Albanese, center, demonstrates how she made the diving catch for the third out to end the game in the top of the seventh inning while celebrating with her teammates following the win at Rhode Island College on Saturday. By defeating Toll Gate by a 5-0 final, Lincoln secured a spot in this Wednesdayâ€™s Division I title game. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN.
PROVIDENCE â€” For the better part of this spring campaign, Lincoln High mentor Dick Ryan has had to field sports writers' post-game queries concerning the amazing statistics compiled by his stellar hurler, junior righthander Lindsay Mayer.
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He did so again Saturday afternoon, after Mayer allowed six hits (without a walk) and whiffed 15 in the Lions' 5-0 victory over Toll Gate in a R.I. Division I Tournament semifinal at Rhode Island College.
Ryan, however, couldn't stop praising the defensive play of his outfield, or the clutch hitting produced by senior third baseman Sarah Albanese.
â€śSarah's a battler; she may bat eighth, but she's in a loaded lineup,â€ť Ryan noted after Albanese finished 1-for-3 with two RBI in a game that pushed the Lions' overall mark to a perfect 21-0. â€śI think she could bat in the middle of any lineup in the state. She's been working hard all year, and I'm very glad for her.
â€śShe's a hustler, she's dedicated to what she's trying to accomplish. She's always the first one at practice, so I can't say enough about her.â€ť
As for the outfield, he explained how well sophomore Casie Beauchemin in left, senior Emma Hart in center and freshman Adriana Toro in right have played not only here in the tourney, but throughout the season.
â€śI've been in softball a long time, but I don't think I've ever seen an outfield like this one,â€ť he offered. â€śEmma's going to play at Wheaton College, and she's a (collegiate) Division I player who's going to play in D-III. Toro's only a freshman, but you can see what she can do, and Casie does a great job in left. They're always hustling.
â€śWhenever I see a ball in the air, I always think we're going to get the out.â€ť
With the triumph, the Lions earned a berth in the championship final. They will face an opponent still to be determined (as losers' bracket playoff tilts are still in the offing) back here at RIC at 7 p.m., Wednesday.
At that point, Ryan shifted back to the performance of Mayer, who actually helped herself, going 1-for-2 with a double and run scored.
â€śI thought she threw the ball really well,â€ť he said. â€śShe's got the pop back in her fastball, and she was throwing a great changeup. She threw the ball really hard, and kept their lineup off-balance.â€ť
Call that an understatement, as Mayer fanned the first six batters she faced before allowing her first batted fair ball.
Lincoln notched its first run â€“ and what proved to be the game-clincher â€“ in the back half of the first. Hart reached on an infield hit, then raced to third when Toro's pop fly to short was dropped. Lindsay Mayer then walked to load the bags, and junior Emily Bouthillette (2-for-3, two RBI, run) knocked in Hart.
With the bases still full, however, freshman Stacy Mayer's bunt fielder's choice to senior pitcher Katelyn McCaughey forced Toro at the plate for the initial out. Her classmate, Alyssa Schermerhorn, then grounded to second baseman Freeman, who tagged the younger Mayer and threw to first for the double play to end the frame.
Lindsay Mayer yielded senior Victoria Porter a single to left to open the third, and sophomore Jenna Beauchamp followed with an infield hit off Mayer's glove. She then responded by whiffing the next three, the last for her ninth strikeout.
The Lions must have been impressed by the feat, as they produced four more runs in the bottom of the third.
Toro took first on an infield miscue, went to third on the elder Mayer's two-bagger to the right-center gap. Bouthillette pounded a ground single to left to plate Toro, and Schermerhorn's one-out single up the middle delivered Lindsay Mayer. (Schermerhorn took second on the throw home).
With two down, Albanese ripped a triple to deep center to score Schermerhorn, and Lincoln cushioned its lead to 5-0.
In the fourth, the Titans threatened again when junior Jesse Brosnahan roped a one-out double to left and sophomore Courtney Conklin singled her to third, but the whirler Mayer struck out both junior Molly Turner and Porter to close it.
As for the fifth, Freeman stroked another one-out double to left, but â€“ what's new? â€“ Mayer fanned seniors Kaylin Dion and McCaughey. She also retired six of her final seven batters, the lone hiccup Beauchamp's infield hit in the seventh.
Stated Titans' coach Shana O'Connor, whose club fell to 11-11 overall: â€ś(Lincoln) was just able to0 string some errors and hits together. We had some hits, but we didn't get the clutch ones we needed. I thought (Lindsay) had a good mixture of pictures and kept our girls off-balance, but we had some extra-base hits, and we need to make more contact.
â€śI thought Katie (McCaughey) pitched a great game; we just need to cut down on our (three) errors.â€ť
Ryan indicated he thought Toll Gate played his Lions tough.
â€śThat's a good team they have over there; they're an '11 seed,' but they had three impressive wins to get here,â€ť he stated. â€śI will say it's been a dream year for us. I'll give the girls a couple of days off, then we'll come back ready to play.
â€śWe've never won a (softball) state championship before â€“ this would be our first â€“ and I know that's what these kids really want.â€ť
He then scratched his head and said, â€śThis is a great group of kids â€“ we're 21-0 and I love 'em â€“ but, you know, I don't think we've played our best game yet. There were things I noticed (Saturday) that we need to work on.
â€śThen again, you never know how things will turn out,â€ť he added. â€śRemember the Patriots in 2007? They won all their games and lost in the Super Bowl. But I'm really happy. It's been a good year for us, and I hope we finish it in style."