LYNN — The St. Mary’s softball team got off to a solid start in its season finale Friday afternoon, but once the bats went cold the Spartans struggled to hold onto their lead, eventually falling 6-4 to Arlington Catholic at Breed Middle School.
“It’s the same story every single time, when we’re explosive offensively we play really well, and when we’re not we just play differently as a team,” said St. Mary’s coach Paige Licata. “Then we get stuck with a lack of confidence and get put in situations where we have to score, and we couldn’t do that today.”
The Spartans got a solid performance in the circle from Lily Newhall, who went the first five innings and allowed four runs on eight hits with five strikeouts. Christina Nowicki pitched the final two innings, allowing two runs on two hits with one strikeout. Nowicki also got the job done at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two RBI to lead the offense. Marina DiBiasio went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
St. Mary’s took an early lead in this one. Nowicki led off the inning with a walk and then stole second base. Newhall then bunted Nowicki over to third base for DiBiasio, who knocked an RBI single up the middle to put St. Mary’s on the board. Arlington Catholic threatened in the top of the second with two on and one out, but Newhall was able to notch two consecutive strikeouts to escape the inning.
That momentum rolled right into the bottom of the second, where St. Mary’s extended its lead. Sam Porazinski and Felicia D’Alessandro each singled and advanced on a groundout to place runners on second and third for Nowicki, who came through with a two-run single to right field to make it 3-0 Spartans.
Unfortunately for St. Mary’s, the bats cooled off from there. The Spartans only mustered six more hits over the next five innings, stranding runners in scoring position in the fourth and sixth innings.
“We just have to be more consistent on the offensive end and it will help us a lot,” said Licata. “If we can get some consistent offense going, it will take the pressure off of our pitchers and our defense and we’ll play better as a whole. So we need to focus on that.”
Arlington Catholic, on the other hand, was just getting started. The Cougars started their rally in the top of the fourth when they moved runners to second and third with two outs. Molly Simmons got the scoring started with an RBI single, followed immediately by an RBI single from Bianca Burke to make cut the deficit to one run. The Cougars nearly tied the score on that hit, but a great cut-off throw from Alyssa Grossi at second base gunned down the second runner trying to score.
After stifling a potential Spartans rally in the bottom of the fourth, Arlington Catholic took the lead for good in the top of the fifth. Caroline Macri knocked in the tying run with a sacrifice fly, then an RBI single from Sam Klein gave the Cougars a 4-3 lead.
Arlington Catholic then quelled another St. Mary’s rally in the bottom of the sixth before tacking on a couple more runs in the top of the sixth. An RBI single from Maddie Van Winkle brought the score to 5-3 before another run came in on a passed ball.
St. Mary’s had one final chance to make a comeback in the bottom of the seventh, notching one run when the Spartans successfully executed a double steal to make it 6-4, but that was as close as the Spartans would get.
St. Mary’s closes the regular season with a 12-8 record and now awaits the state tournament pairings, which will be announced Tuesday. The Spartans will have over a week off before playing their next game, so Licata has some plans to keep the team loose over the down time. Namely, the girls will take batting practice against Mia Nowicki, a St. Mary’s alum and former two-time Catholic Central League MVP who now pitches for Assumption College.
“We’re just going to have to make practice as competitive as possible, and that’s where Mia comes in,” said Licata. “She’s going to pitch to them live, and if they can get hits off her then I’ll feel really good going into the tournament.”
Georgetown 4, Swampscott 3 (F/8)
Ryan Graciale went 1-for-3, Spencer Perkins went 1-for-4 and Jonathan Oriakhi went 1-for-3 with one RBI.
Pinch-runner Jack Leahy scored a key run in the sixth inning to keep Swampscott within striking distance.
Nick Reiser pitched 3 1/3 innings and was relieved by Max Pegnato, who tossed 3 2/3 innings. Tyler Marshall pitched the eighth inning.
Swampscott finished its regular season at 11-10 and await the state tournament pairings.
Beverly 6, Triton 2
Spencer Brown tallied eight strikeouts in Beverly’s regular season finale. He threw seven innings on the mound and added two hits with one RBI at the plate. Nick Berry had two hits with three RBI.
The Panthers (16-4) await the state tournament pairings.