St. Mary’s softball advances to sectional semifinal

Lily Newhall struck out five in Monday's win. (Item File Photo)

LYNN — St. Mary’s softball coach Paige Licata was a little on edge coming into Monday night’s Division 3 North quarterfinal game against Matignon.

The Warriors came to Lynn earlier this season and beat the Spartans. Between that and the fact that St. Mary’s had a comparatively close win over Pope John over the weekend, Licata was well aware of what could happen.

“Teams always seem to play well in the tournament,” said Licata. “It doesn’t matter what they do in the season. Tournament time, and they always give you a good game.”

Matignon hung tough too. But in the end, it was the Spartans taking the win, 10-3, to advance to the semifinal Thursday (5:30) at Martin Field in Lowell against either Amesbury or Boston Latin Academy (the game is on Tuesday).

The No. 3 Spartans got a 2-run homer from Talia Smaller in the fifth inning, a solo homer from Taylor Sullivan, and a 3-for-3 day from outfielder Katie O’Neill, who also scored a run. Meanwhile, pitcher Lily Newhall allowed four hits and struck out five. Fielding lapses by St. Mary’s (18-4) kept the game close until the Spartans put some distance between themselves and the Warriors in the later innings.

“It seemed like every time we made a mistake, we paid,” said Licata. “I’d say that we have to work on eliminating our mistakes. I’m glad we hit, but we still need to work on the mistakes.”

The Spartans made one of those mistakes right out of the gate. Matignon’s Alaina Aiello led off by poking a single up the middle, and when Bridget Anderson sacrificed her over, an errant throw in an attempt to tag Andeson out at second allowed her to come all the way home with the first run of the game.

St. Mary’s got that back when Christina Nowicki led the bottom of the first with a double, took third on Felicia D’Alessandro’s grounder to the pitcher, and scored when Samantha Porazinski also grounded out.

In the second inning, Taylor Sullivan led with a homer to right-center. St. Mary’s made it 3-1 when O’Neill singled and eventually scored on errors.

Matignon kept the pressure on, scoring a run in the third when Danielle Mantello reached on an error and got all the way to third on successive wild pitches before scoring on an infield out. However, the Spartans got that run back in their half of the third when D’Alessandro walked, stole second, and scored on Porazinski’s single.  

Matignon scored its third run in bizarre fashion. Erica Hutchinson singled with two out. Newhall thought she’d struck out Warrior pitcher Maddie Klein, but the umpired only had two strikes. As the Spartans ran off the field, Hutchinson sprinted to third. She then scored on a wild pitch.

Newhall slammed the door after that. Smaller’s rocket to right was part of a three-run fifth that made the score 7-3,  and a wild pitch, an error, and a grounder to short by Porazinski brought home three more in the seventh.

It could have been more, but the Warriors had their outfielders playing right up against the fence by the last inning, and actually made a few putouts from there.

“If they weren’t playing so deep,” said Licata, “we’d have had more runs.”

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