PROVIDENCE — After posting three straight victories in post-season action, Woonsocket High head coach Dan Belisle had every reason to believe his club had the makings of posting an upset over top-seeded East Greenwich.
That thought process fell by the wayside rather quickly, as the Avengers tallied five runs each in the first and second frames and rolled to an elementary 11-0 “mercy rule” drubbing of the seventh-ranked Villa Novans in the R.I. Division II Tournament's winners' bracket final at Rhode Island College on Saturday night.
Senior righty Mollie Anderson hurled a stellar two-hitter with just one walk and seven whiffs, and East Greenwich – which improved to 19-1 overall – remained alone in the class of the unbeatens in the tourney. It won't play again until 5 p.m., Sunday, when a losers' bracket champion emerges from the rest.
The Villa Novans, on the other hand, will battle the winner of Prout/West Warwick at 7 p.m., Monday in a losers' bracket playoff.
“(Anderson) threw strikes and hit her spots, and her offense really hit the ball in that first inning,” a melancholy Belisle stated after his squad fell to 13-7 overall. “We were chasing five right away. With us offensively, she didn't give us any freebies. I think she had one walk, and she was around the plate. She made us earn everything.
“You know, we did the same thing against West Warwick (in a playoff tilt) on Tuesday; we put up three in the first and another three in the second,” he added. “When that happens, it puts a lot of pressure on the hitters. They go up there trying to get it all back at once, instead of taking it one at-bat at a time.”
Senior Karen Lockhart led the victors, going 3-for-3 with three RBI and a trio of runs scored, while freshman Sarah Gavin went 2-for-2 with a double, triple and four RBI and junior Keri Pallister 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and runs each.
Anderson helped herself from the get-go, lacing a leadoff double down the left-field line off of eventual losing pitcher and freshman Amanda Nunez. Senior Alex Place immediately plated Anderson's courtesy runner, sophomore Brooke Andreozzi, with a single to left, and classmate Jackie DiFusco reached on an infield “pop drop,” then moved to second on a throw to third.
Junior Lauren Duvall knocked in DiFusco with a hit to left, and Duvall took third when Karen Lockhart drove a single to center. Pallister ripped a two-run single up the middle, and she raced home on Gavin's triple to the right-center hole before the rally stalled.
Nunez opened the top of the second with a hit to center, though nothing came of it, and – with one out in the bottom half – the Avengers began another surge.
Place singled to left and Nunez walked both DiFusco and Duvall to load the bags, and Lockhart clubbed another single to plate both Place and DiFusco.
Nunez fanned sophomore Kyra Benavent for the second out, but then walked Pallister to fill the bases again. That's when Gavin drilled a three-run double down the left-field line to dig the Villa Novans a 10-0 hole.
Woonsocket junior Amanda Alexion led the third with a soft single to right, then sophomore Varsana Schobel walked, but Anderson got senior Caitlin Marcoux to ground to the circle, allowing Alexion and Schobel to move up. That's when a base umpire ruled Alexion had left third too early, before Anderson's delivery reached the plate, and called her out.
Anderson then struck out freshman Taylor Pawlina to end the frame.
The Avengers notched another in the fourth when Lockhart singled, took second on Benavent's walk and hustled home on Pallister's RBI single to left.
After putting down the 'Novans in order in the top of the fifth, the umpiring crew called the contest due to the Interscholastic League's 10-run “mercy rule.”
“We just have to regroup,” Belisle stated. “We'll play again Monday, and hopefully, we'll get things going offensively. Amanda's only a freshman, so she's gaining a lot of experience. Like I said, we can't put so much pressure on our hitters by falling behind. We have to take care of the first inning, then get into a rhythm.”