They’re so well coached and well schooled and do all the little things that don’t show up in the scorebook.
But they can show up on the scoreboard eventually and that’s what happened Sunday in the Division 3 North final when the St. Mary’s softball team took another step closer toward its goal of repeating as state champion.
Sparked by clutch hitting, excellent defense, and heads-up play on the bases and in the field, the Lady Spartans rallied to defeat annual nemesis Austin Prep, 8-5, and capture the Division 3 North championship at Martin Field in Lowell.
Leftfielder Sabrina Iannetti made a sensational running catch and had a huge RBI triple. Brianna Holmes had an equally important RBI triple while incomparable leadoff hitter Maria Nazzaro blasted a two-run triple in the sixth that allowed the Spartans to overcome a deficit for the second time in the game. East Boston’s greatest softball player ever, Samantha Burri, showed that you can dominate a game defensively while playing second base.
Senior pitcher Sam Kiley hurled seven gutsy innings and had two hits and an RBI against a senior-dominated Austin Prep team who was trying to end three years of post-season shortfalls against St. Mary’s.
Instead it’s the St. Mary’s senior class of Samatha Kiley, Erin McAndrews, Maria Nazzaro, Katie Collins, Brittney Hanscom, Kristina Burri, and Michelle Macchione, who’ll lead the Spartans into a state semifinal showdown against Case High School tonight (Tuesday) in Lowell.
Six outs from extinction and facing a 5-3 deficit against the Cougars’ senior pitcher Lauren Kilp, coach Colleen Newbury’s Blue and Gold went to work.
Burri started the surge by lashing a double just inside the left field foul line. Katie Collins walked on four pitches before Kiley laid down a perfect bunt for a single to load the bases.
Iannetti hit a grounder to the Austin Prep shortstop who made an off-balance throw to home, allowing two runs to score and tying the game at 5-5. Nazzaro tripled to left centerfield field for two runs and a 7-5 advantage.
Kiley ended things quietly in the seventh, with unsung hero and catcher Katie Collins doing the last-out honors on a foul pop-up off the bat of senior Alex Gustafson.
Colleen Newbury said confidence reigned in the Lady Spartans’ dugout despite the 3-0 and 5-3 deficits.
“Sam Kiley kept us in the game and we just hit the ball and bunted it when he had to, and executed when we really needed to,” said Newbury. “It was a slow start, but we turned it on clearly at the end, defensively and offensively and it made a difference.”