The “win or go home” stakes of Wednesday’s single-elimination East Regional Tournament game against Delaware meant the Lynn Senior Little League Softball All-Stars had to play their best game. Lynn rose to the challenge with a 12-0 five-inning win at Worcester State’s Rockwood Park.
With the victory, Lynn advances to the semifinal. The Lynners will play Maryland bright and early Thursday morning (10) at Rockwood Park. If Lynn defeats Maryland, it advances to Thursday afternoon’s (2) championship game against New Jersey/Pennsylvania at Vernon Hills.
“These girls are really in a zone right now,” Lynn manager Chad Wilkins said. “Thursday will be tougher. I’ve watched all the other three remaining teams play. They’re all very good teams. I feel confident. Our defense has been there, our pitching has been there, timely hitting has been there. I feel confident going into Thursday, but we know it’ll be tough.
“I watched Maryland play twice,” Wilkins said. “Their pitcher’s very good, they’re very fast and they hit the ball. They’re very good. Pennsylvania has mercy ruled every game they’ve played in. Thursday’s it. I feel confident no matter who we play. We have the least amount of runs against in the tournament, which says a lot for our pitching and defense.”
Lynn pitcher Lily Newhall brought her A-game to the circle again. Newhall didn’t allow a base hit through her five shutout innings of work. She struck out 11 and surrendered just one walk.
Wilkins said the key to Newhall’s success in Wednesday’s win was staying ahead in the count.
“First pitch strikes,” Wilkins said. “She was always ahead of the hitters. She mixed up her pitches again. Fastball, offspeed. She really dominated the game again in the circle.”
Riley Mannion led Lynn’s 14-hit attack, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
“Riley has been one of our more dominant hitters throughout this whole tournament, from start to now,” Wilkins said. “She’s our No. 3 hitter. She always hits the ball hard, even when she makes outs. Riley’s a good hitter.”
Just about everybody who stepped into the batter’s box contributed in some way. Amanda Wilkins went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Newhall and Emely Rodriguez each went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Gianna Coito (1-for-2), Abby Fila (1-for-2) and Reese Brinkler (1-for-3) each scored one run.
“I always talk to the girls about complete team efforts,” Wilkins said. “It seems to be happening. Even the girls that aren’t starting, they come in and get hits. It makes me feel comfortable to put anybody in the game. Everyone’s contributing, starters and non-starters. As a coach, they make my job easier. It makes you feel comfortable when you can put anybody in the game.”