By Jennifer Mageary
Special to the Journal
For the second year in a row, the St. Mary’s Spartans came out victorious in the John G. Holland Memorial Softball Tournament, defeating Lynn Classical, 4-1.
The Holland final matched two of the premier programs on the North Shore. Classical, under the direction of coach Chris Warren, won the Northeastern Conference Large championship this season with a perfect record in the league. It will be among the top-seeded teams in the Division 1 North Sectional. St. Mary’s, under the direction of coach Colleen Newbury, is the two-time Division 3 state champion and ranked No. 1 in the North sectional by the Boston Herald.It was a back-and-forth battle between both teams’ defense and great pitching by Classical’s MacKenzie Coppinger and St. Mary’s Brooke L’Abbe early on, with no runs scored in the first three innings by either team. Throughout the game, L’Abbe only gave up three hits and Coppinger gave up one.
“We’re glad it was the game it was today,” said Head Coach Colleen Newbury of the Spartans. “Defensively, both teams were good. Both pitchers were on, and Coppinger threw good stuff.”
St. Mary’s scored their first run in the bottom of the fourth, but Classical answered swiftly as Jennie Erekson doubled, and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. L’Abbe walked Olivia DeJoie to put runners on first and third, and Erekson scored on a passed ball. St. Mary’s got the remaining two outs on great defensive plays against Samantha Earp and Danielle Moran.
The Rams held St. Mary’s to another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, but the Spartans’ offense finally clicked in the bottom of the sixth. Angela Dandreo doubled into left field, bringing L’Abbe to the plate. L’Abbe helped herself with a single to put runners on first and third. Ariel LaRosa laid down a bunt, and Coppinger threw to home, unable to get Dandreo at the plate. Brianna Holmes came to the plate, and hit a grounder to Classical’s second baseman Earp who threw out Holmes at first, scoring another run for the Spartans and putting LaRosa on third. Shortstop Alison Butler grounded to Hannah Byrne who made an attempt to throw LaRosa out at home, but was unsuccessful and LaRosa scored the fourth run for the Spartans before the Rams could make the last two outs.
In the final inning, Classical was shut down by L’Abbe, who got Erekson to fly out to center field and struck out the final two batters to win the game.
“We manufactured a lot of runs in that game, and we had to work hard and execute. It’s fun to play in this tournament and play Concord tomorrow. It’s always good to play strong teams going into tournament play,” said Newbury.
In the consolation game held earlier that day, the Swampscott Big Blue beat the Lynn English Bulldogs 7-0.
The John Holland Scholarship winners were Keila Lantigua of Lynn English, Hannah Byrne of Lynn Classical, Lauren Sullivan of Swampscott and Brianna Holmes of St. Mary’s.
The Holland Tournament All-Stars were Shelbi Wilson, Sabrina Iannetti, Angela Dandreo, Brianna Holmes and Victoria Viger of St. Mary’s, Kellie Birchmore, Lindsey Marini and Angela Vousboukis of Swampscott, Jennie Erekson, Olivia DeJoie, and Samantha Earp of Lynn Classical and Lindsey Walsh of Lynn English. Brooke L’Abbe was awarded the Ginny Dandreo Outstanding Tournament Pitcher award.