The Greater Lynn Babe Ruth 14-Under softball All-Star team won three games on the final day of the New England Regionals Sunday to capture the 2011 championship in the prestigious tournament that brought the best teams in the region to the city.
There was drama every step of the way, beginning with Samantha Holey’s game-winning triple to bring home courtesy runner Keri Bryson in a game on Saturday.
After dropping their next game by a run to Rochester (N.H.), the Lynners were in a position of having to win three consecutive games to claim the regional title.
Molly Doyle stepped up on the mound Sunday morning and delivered 12 innings of clutch pitching to help Lynn edge Norwalk, Connecticut, 4-3.
That win earned Lynn a rematch with Rochester and manager Steve Martin’s never-say-die contingent won the back-to-back showdowns by scores of 5-4 and 9-3.
Doyle and Gabby Kenniston each had key run-producing basehits in the first game as Lynn built a 5-1 lead. Brooke Holey was the pitching star as she held the potent hitting New Hampshire team in check before Doyle came on to earn the save in relief.
Ivy Martin helped Lynn take early command in the regional championship game with a bases-clearing double in the second inning. Shanna Zeramby, a supremely confident player and one of a few stars on the team who should make an immediate impact at the varsity level next year, was the winning pitcher in a solid, route-going effort.
Steve Martin said he would have loved to have seen his team move on to compete against the best teams in the country, but there is no Babe Ruth Softball Nationals in the 14-Under Division (They are held in the 12-Under and 16-Under Divisions).
Still, Martin knew he had been part of a very special accomplishment in Lynn’s athletic history, one the players, coaches, Lynn fans, and Babe Ruth officials will remember for a long time.
“It feels unbelievable to be the New England champion, especially after the road we had to take,” said Martin. “The girls never wavered. They got behind and fought back just like they’ve done ever since I’ve known them.”
Martin praised the girls’ resiliency and character in what was an uphill battle following a tough one-run loss Saturday.
“The reason why they are New England regional champions is because they are the toughest bunch of kids in New England,” said Martin. “They’re focused but they have fun at the same time. And nobody competes better than my girls.”
While Martin called the victory “a total team effort,” he said five leaders emerged during the march to the championship.
“You have to have leaders on the team, you have to have girls that lead the way and our core group that was here last year really stepped up today [Sunday] – the two Holey girls (Samantha and Brooke), Shanna Zeramby, Molly Doyle, and Katie Donnelly – those girls competed for the team last year and knew what it takes. When things got tough, they talked to the other girls and relaxed the girls. It was like they were coaches on the team. Those five girls were also positive and constructive and that’s what makes a winning team.”