St. Mary’s defeats Williams, closes in on tournament bid

Angelia Pepe threw five solid innings in St. Mary's win over Williams. (Item File Photo)

LYNNFIELD — The St. Mary’s softball team’s now one win away from a berth in the state tournament after taking down Archbishop Williams, 5-2, at Lynnfield High Wednesday afternoon. Despite falling behind early in the game, the Spartans used one big inning to propel themselves to victory.

“I think we played well for the most part, although I think we certainly could’ve had more production offensively,” said St. Mary’s coach Paige Licata. “We have games where we put up 12 to 15 runs and other games where we can’t score, so I’d really like to see us be more consistent on that front. But other than that, this was a good win for us.”

Christina Nowicki (2-for-4), Jordan Sullivan (1-for-2) and Katie O’Neill (1-for-3) each had one RBI. In the circle, freshman pitcher Angelia Pepe earned the win after allowing two runs on six hits with seven strikeouts in five innings of work. Nowicki pitched the final two innings in relief, totalling four strikeouts.

Williams jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first. After Pepe breezed through the first two outs, Megan Marcel kept the inning alive with a two-out single. She then stole second base to set things up for Bridget O’Reilly, who laced an RBI single into right field to give the Bishops a 1-0 lead.

St. Mary’s threatened to tie the score back up in the bottom of the first after getting a runner to third base with two outs, but a groundout ended the rally.

In the bottom of the second, St. Mary’s got the hits it needed. It started when Alyssa Grossi reached on a hit-by-pitch and advanced to second on a passed ball. An RBI double from Sullivan tied the score at 1-1, then a walk and a pop-out placed runners on first and second with one out. Next up was O’Neill, who lined an RBI single into left field to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead. Nowicki followed with an RBI single of her own then another run came around to score on a passed ball, giving St. Mary’s a 4-1 lead.

The Bishops tried to recapture momentum in the top of the third when Marcel smashed a one-out solo home run, making it 4-2. But Pepe didn’t let the mishap get to her, and she promptly retired the next two batters in order to escape the inning.

“That’s something that she’s been doing all year, which is really impressive for such a young player,” Licata said of Pepe’s ability to work out of trouble. “Williams has a bunch of great hitters and there were a few things that didn’t go her way early, but she fought through it all.”

Pepe only allowed two hits over her final two innings of work.

The Spartans added one more run in the bottom of the fifth when a runner came home on a Williams throwing error, putting the score at 5-2.

The Bishops had one more chance at a rally in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with one out. But, with the go-ahead run at the plate, Nowicki recovered with a strikeout and a groundout to end the game.

Now, with one more win to go for a tournament berth, St. Mary’s (9-5) gets set to face Marblehead Monday (4). The Magicians got the win in the first matchup on May 4, the last time St. Mary’s lost a game. Licata feels that the Spartans are playing better this time around.

“That’s going to be a tough game for us for sure, but we were in it for most of that last game we played, it was just one bad inning that killed us,” Licata said. “So hopefully we can come out and hit the ball early and score some runs to put the pressure back on them, because I’ve noticed that we really play a lot better when we’re in that kind of position.”

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