Softball: Pembroke’s offense explodes against Bow, Spartans finish regular season 8-8

  • Pembroke center fielder Ally Tessler hangs on for an over-the-shoulder catch in Thursday’s 11-3 win over Bow. Chip Griffin / Photos By Chip

  • Kyleigh Burtsell high fives Pembroke head coach John Manni as she rounds third after her fourth inning home run to give the Spartans a 6-2 lead on Thursday. Chip Griffin / Photos By Chip

  • Bow’s Lilly Wright swings at a pitch from Pembroke’s Eliza Carignan on Thursday. Chip Griffin / Photos By Chip

Monitor staff
Published: 5/26/2023 1:47:10 AM
Modified: 5/26/2023 1:44:41 AM

PEMBROKE – The Spartans’ softball season has been one of extremes – massive wins followed by blowout losses. So it seems somewhat fitting that at the end of the regular season, following an 11-3 victory over Bow on Thursday, Pembroke sits at .500.

Pembroke opened the season with a 24-0 win over Souhegan, the first of six games in which the Spartans scored at least 10 runs; but they also had five games where they allowed at least 10 runs.

Thursday, they seemingly put it all together, hitting the ball well and playing strong defense to come away with their second win over Bow this season.

Here are three notes from the matchup as both teams gear up for the Division II playoffs:

Pembroke’s offense guides the way

The Spartans offense came alive in the third and fourth innings when they flipped what was a 2-1 Falcons lead into an 11-2 lead for themselves.

Kyleigh Burtsell and Taylor Rena each cracked two-run homers in the fourth, two of the seven hits Pembroke had in that inning alone.

“My top five – three seniors and two freshmen – hit the ball hard all the time,” said head coach John Manni. “As you saw today.”

The outburst provided cushion for senior Eliza Carignan in the circle. She pitched a complete game, allowing three runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

Defense will likely decide how far Pembroke makes it in the playoffs

For Manni, the formula to win is quite simple. He knows he can count on his offense to put up some runs. But can they avoid giving teams extra outs remains the big question.

“Not in the last few games, but we’ve given up a lot of unearned runs,” he said. “We got cracked by a couple of teams, like Coe-Brown and Kingswood, who clearly have better talent than us. If we play D, we’re usually in every game.”

And while that’s been an area of inconsistency all season, perhaps the Spartans have started to figure things out at the most important juncture of the schedule.

“When we catch the ball, we’re tough because we can hit,” Manni said. “(Today) was one of our better games.”

The Falcons have proven to be one of the better teams in D-II but not on Thursday

For a team that entered its final regular season game 10-5, having won nine of 12 after a 1-2 start, Thursday was a remarkably disappointing performance from Bow.

Similar to the last time it faced Pembroke – a 12-4 loss – the Falcons allowed the Spartans offense to take over the game. 

“It’s a little bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team at times,” head coach Jen Boyden said of her group. “You don’t quite know what you’re going to get.”

The frustration stems from the fact that Bow’s proven it can beat top teams in the division. Look no further than the Falcons’ 6-5 win in a 14-inning marathon over 9-6 ConVal on Monday or their 6-5 win over 10-6 Merrimack Valley last week. But if they play like they did against Pembroke, it’ll be a quick playoff stint for a team that expects to be able to compete for a deep run.

“They have the nice long holiday weekend to think about how much they actually want it,” Boyden said. “And if they do want it, and they do what they can do, they’ll win.”


ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL is a sports reporter for the Monitor. He graduated from Northwestern University in June 2022 with a degree in journalism and spent his last two years as sports director for the campus radio station, WNUR, leading coverage for nine different sports. A New York native, he's a diehard Yankees and Giants fan much to the displeasure of most of the newsroom.

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