Chris Warren has built one of the finest softball programs in Massachusetts. This year’s surging Lynn Classical contingent arrived at the John Holland Memorial Tournament final with a six-game winning streak and shortstop Francesca Galeazzi winding down her storied three-sport athletic career.
But Colleen Newbury and her St. Mary’s Spartans always seem to have the answer to the Rams’ splendid campaigns.
St. Mary’s pitchers, sophomore Michaela Hamill and freshman Mia Nowicki, led St. Mary’s to a 5-1 victory over Classical in the championship game Sunday at Grace Rogato Field.
Hamill pitched four scoreless innings while striking out seven batters. Nowicki recorded eight of her nine outs by strikeouts. Both pitchers were named Tournament All-Stars, which may be an unprecedented feat for a team in the tourney’s history.
Tournament MVP Cassandra LaFauci, who’s having a brilliant junior season, set the tone at the top of the St. Mary’s order with three hits and an RBI.
St. Mary’s scored four of its five runs in the second inning, with Mia Nowicki, Mollie Mello, Jennie Mucciarone, and Cassandra LaFauci delivering with base hits. The Spartans took advantage of some misplays in the field and used their always-efficient baserunning to create scoring opportunities. St. Mary’s claimed its fifth consecutive Holland title.
“Everybody time we play them, we always have that one bad inning and today was no different – we gave up five unearned runs,” said Chris Warren. “Ivy [Martin] pitched very well and kept them off balance but we didn’t defend well for her. We’ve been playing great lately so we’re going to take out of this, six out of seven [wins] going in to the state tournament and that’s going to be our focus.”
Colleen Newbury has her team primed to make another run at a Division 3 state title. Last year’s team reached the state final. The Holland Tournament was a good test for the Spartans and a confidence builder for the postseason.
“Our pitching was really good today,” said Newbury. “Our pitchers are going to keep us in it and we just have to get the runs and score. We tried to bunt a little more [against Classical]. It’s come down to execution and when you execute a little bit better that’s how you do it.”
Ally Dunnigan of Lynn Classical was very impressive in the championship game with three solid hits for Classical.
Item sports editor and tournament committee member Steve Krause was the public address announcer for the championship game. Krause also introduced the members of the committee in the pre-game ceremony, with the charismatic Jeff Earp, who was not able to attend the tournament, drawing a sizable ovation from those in attendance. Earp was instrumental in making sure the tournament would continue this year.
St. Mary’s director of athletics Jeff Newhall praised the tournament committee. “Lynn Babe Ruth did a great job putting on the tournament once again. It’s the highlight of the end of the season. And it definitely gets the teams that are going to the State Tournament ready for that type of atmosphere. It’s great winning this tournament but just having this tournament and having it run by Lynn Babe Ruth is excellent.”
Basketball star and 1,000-point scorer Jennie Mucciarone is the starting second baseman for the Spartans. The Tufts-bound scholar-athlete could have called it a career after leading the hoop team to its second state title in four years but Mucciarone is back contributing to the Spartans’ softball success and another state title would be a storybook finish to her amazing career at St. Mary’s.