RIVERSIDE – Their pitchers might not have thrown as hard and their batters might not have had the same pop, but when it came to throwing strikes and make plays in the field, no one was better than Cumberland National.
Cumberland was spotless defensively and pitchers Sydney Provencal and Katerina Kent allowed only seven base runners the entire game as the offense took advantage of two errors in a 3-0 win over East Greenwich to claim the Rhode Island Major Division Softball Championship Friday night.
“It’s fun to watch when 11- and 12-year old girls play that well,” Cumberland coach Mike Gillardi said. “They don’t make mistakes and we played small ball.”
Cumberland knew it was going to have a hard time scoring runs off EG pitcher Cora Geunes, who didn’t allow an earned run in the postseason, but got on the board in the second inning.
Brianna Frankina reached on a throwing error and took second when Emily D'Abrosca singled off Geunes’ glove. The pair moved up when Kailey Brodeur was hit by a pitch and after a strikeout, Frankina scored when Geunes walked Maddie Leite.
Cumberland added two more in the fifth, starting another rally on an EG error that allowed D’Abrosca to reach. Brodeur followed with a bunt single and Provencal bunted the pair over one base. Emily Duran was hit to load the bases and D’Abrosca scored when Ellie Ackerman was walked.
“That pitcher was just throwing BBs,” Gillardi said. “We couldn’t hit her, so we resorted to bunting.”
The all-stars added a second run in the inning when EG catcher Hana Soucie tried to pick Ackerman off at first. The throw was there in plenty of time, but the tag wasn’t applied and as the play was going on, Brodeur scored to make it 3-0.
East Greenwich had come up with some big hits in the tournament and made plenty of contact Friday, but the Cumberland defense made every play. Kent had the only strikeout and the other 17 outs were made in the field without one error in the books.
It also helped that Cumberland avoided handing out too many free passes. After Provencal ran into some slight control problems, walking two batters in the second, Gillardi went to Kent and the righty didn’t disappoint. She hit one batter and walked another in her four innings of work and EG only reached scoring position once, coming with two outs in the fifth.
“They don’t walk anybody and that’s their game,” EG coach Tom Graul said. “They throw strikes, don’t give it away and play defense.”
“I think [the fielders] know that and I think that keeps their heads in the game as well,” Gillardi said. “They have to be there on every pitch.”
Cumberland will now travel to Bristol, Conn., for the Eastern Region Little League Softball Tournament and opens play Friday, July 22 with a game against Maine at 2 p.m.
After flying through District IV and cruising in the state tournament, Gillardi hopes the tournament will end up being a good experience for his team.
‘It’s an honor to represent Rhode Island and go to Bristol,” Gillardi said. “… I just want everybody to have a good time about it because you don’t know how many times you have a chance to do stuff like this.