Briana Connolly of Pembroke Academy: Softball Player of the Season

  • Briana Connolly helped anchor the Pembroke softball team’s first-ever trip to the state title game this season. The Spartans lost, 3-2, to Milford. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/16/2017 10:17:39 AM

The Pembroke Academy softball team made history this spring by reaching the school’s first-ever softball final. PA Coach Ashley Gladu described her team as the “scrappy kids from Pembroke,” and no one was scrappier, or more instrumental in making history, than senior catcher Briana Connolly.

The sixth-seeded Spartans scored four runs combined in their Division II Final Four games at Southern New Hampshire University – a 2-1 semifinal win against No. 2 Gofftown and a 3-2 loss in the finals to No. 4 Milford, the defending champs – and Connolly was the one who came across the plate with all four.

The first run she scored at SNHU was the quietest, as she trotted home on a balk to give PA a 1-0 lead in the semifinals. There was no trotting on the second run, however, as Connolly scored all the way from first after a throwing error on a two-out ground ball. It didn’t seem possible for anyone to score on the play, but Gladu, coaching third base, waved Connolly home and the senior clearly beat the throw.

“That kid is so speedy, I will not hesitate to send her. Ever,” Gladu said after the game. “I don’t even think her feet touch the ground when she runs.”

After going 2-for-3 in the semifinals, Connolly, PA’s leadoff hitter, kept the momentum going in the final by hitting a home run off the left field foul pole to open the game.

“She has been our kid all year and to do it on this stage, she was ready from the get,” Gladu said.

Milford answered to take a 3-1 lead, but Connolly showed off her speed once again by turning a simple line drive to center into a double to leadoff the third. She eventually scored on a base hit from Olivia Langevin to make it 3-2.

Connolly nearly tied the score in the fourth when she cracked a line drive with the bases loaded, but it was right at the Milford shortstop and wound up being a double play instead of a game-tying RBI.

There was still plenty of fight left in the Spartans when the game reached the seventh inning, and of course it was Connolly personifying that fight by starting the inning with a single. She made it all the way to third and was more than ready to come home with the game-tying run, but Milford managed to find the final out before Pembroke could add to its histroic season.

“I’m proud of us for playing our hearts out,” Connolly said. “That was the first time PA has been in the championship and we played our hearts out. I couldn’t be happier for this team.”

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