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High Schools: Concord softball rallies to beat Dover, claims No. 1 ranking

Down to its final three outs and trailing 5-2, the Concord High softball team’s hopes of securing the top seed for the Division I playoffs seemed slim.

But before Dover (15-3) could record an out, the Crimson Tide (16-2) was walking off Memorial Field yesterday with a 6-5 victory and the top ranking.

“We have a team this year that really wants it, led by the seniors,” Concord Coach Duke Sawyer said. “They showed their resolve tonight. They just want it this year and they’re going to play to the best of their abilities to try to get it. It’s the type of team that’s going to leave everything on the field.”

The teams entered the regular-season finale tied atop the standings, and Dover looked to play spoiler on Concord’s senior night by scoring four runs in the top of the first. But Concord, which got a couple back in the third on a two-run single by Katie Kennard, saved the best for last.

A pair of pinch hitters ignited the rally, with Deb Morrill reaching on an error and Katherine Muzzey hitting a flair to shallow center to put runners – and runners with speed – on first and second.

“Just to have those people on the bench to be able to do that, it’s a luxury we haven’t had in a long time,” Sawyer said. “You can’t teach speed.”

Dani Morrill loaded the bases by beating out an infield hit to third, then Annie Mullen (2-for-3) did the same, scoring Deb Morrill to make it 5-3. Kennard followed with a grounder to third, scoring Muzzey, and when the throw sailed past first, Delanie Pickering (running for Dani Morrill) came across with the tying run.

Still with no outs, Jess Carroll stepped to the plate and lined a hard shot to deep right field to bring Mullen in with the winning run.

The rally made a winner out of Dani Morrill, who came on in relief in the third inning and shut down Dover, not allowing a baserunner until the seventh, when a pair of infield singles and an error scored one unearned run.

“For Dani to shut them down like she did was fantastic,” Sawyer said. “She was very calm and collected and just went to work.”

The victory capped a challenging week for the Tide, which beat Central and one of the top pitchers in the state on Monday, followed that with a win over No. 4 Spaulding on Wednesday, then beat the team it was tied for first with yesterday.

“You can’t have a better tuneup for the playoffs,” Sawyer said. “To have teams that make us work, it brings out the best in you.”

SOFTBALL

Conant 15, Hopkinton 4

Hopkinton (10-6) finished its regular season with a road loss to a hot Conant team (14-2) that has won six straight games.

The Hawks opened the scoring in the top of the first inning on singles by Kasey Smith and Lily Scammon before the Orioles scored seven runs over the first two frames. Kelly Scammon added an RBI double and Emily Bogart drove in a run on a single in the third and fourth innings, respectively.

Sophomore Becca Shatney eclipsed the 100-strikeout mark for the season during the game, marking the first time in over five years that a Hawks pitcher has accomplished the feat. McKayla Reale finished the game with two solid innings of work.

Hopkinton will likely be the No. 12 seed in the upcoming tournament.

BASEBALL

Hopkinton 5, Conant 2, 9 inn.

Steve Auger and Wes Rose hit RBI singles in the top of the ninth inning to break a 2-2 tie and give Hopkinton (10-6) a big win going into the postseason. Starting pitcher Liam McNicholas went the distance for the Hawks, giving up seven hits and no earned runs while striking out two and walking zero. He threw 116 pitches in the extended game, going head-to-head with Conant (11-4) starter Josh LeBlanc for the whole game.

“It’s a confidence-builder for us going into the tourney,” Hopkinton Coach Dave Chase said.

The Hawks finished the season 8-1 over their last nine games after starting the year 2-5. They could end up seeded ninth through 11th.

Rose (4-for-5, three RBI) and Auger (two hits, three runs, two steals) generated the majority of Hopkinton’s offense, including the Hawks’ single runs in the first and fifth innings. Colin O’Keeffe added a sac fly.

Winnisquam 9, Newfound 6

Parker Normand hit a go-ahead three-run homer to give the Bears (11-5) a victory in the completion of a suspended game from Wednesday. Caleb Hutchins pitched Winnisquam out of an immediate jam, as Newfound (9-6) had men on first and third with two outs in the bottom of the seventh in a tie game when the delayed action picked up again yesterday.

Hutchins ended up earning the winning decision after going 1 1∕3 innings of scoreless ball. He faced more trouble in the bottom of the eighth inning after the first two Newfound batters reached base on errors, but Hutchins stood strong and put out the next three hitters in a row.

Winnisquam ensured itself of a top-eight seed and will start the tournament at home in the second round next week.

D-II GIRLS’ TENNIS

No. 1 Portsmouth 6, No. 4 Bishop Brady 3

The Green Giants (13-3) had their season come to an end in the semifinals against top-seeded, undefeated Portsmouth (16-0). The Bishop Brady girls went down swinging with a number of close matches in singles and doubles.

“The girls gave (Portsmouth) a run for their money,” Brady Coach Marcia Moran said.

No. 2 Shelby Herrington won her singles match in a tiebreak, 9-8 (7-4), and No. 6 Lynn Yoon kept the Giants alive with an 8-4 win in her singles match to keep the outcome in doubt going into doubles.

The top doubles team of Maddy Moran/Herrington swept their match, 8-0, before the No. 2 duo of Katie MacMullin/Caroline Urbanek lost 8-5 in a hard-fought match. No. 3 Mikayla Clarke/Yoon lost in a tiebreak, 9-8 (8-6).

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