Jun. 8—LAWRENCE — Thanks to a freshman slugger and sophomore pitcher, Central Catholic jumped out to a lead and held on for dear life in a 6-5 win over North Andover in the Div. 1 Round of 16 softball state tourney.
It wasn't exactly how everyone wanted it, with both teams, from the same Merrimack Valley Conference, playing back to back games without a day off.
On Monday, Central beat Braintree, 5-2, and North Andover bested Beverly, 8-2.
Because of weather concerns — rain on Wednesday and Thursday — the Central-North Andover tilt was moved up to Tuesday.
Central beat North Andover, 6-5, holding on for dear life.
"This is the kind of game, against a good MVC team, you don't want to play this early in the tournament," said Central coach Stacy Ciccolo. "And then you factor in we get no time to rest and prepare? It was not ideal. But we were both in the same situation."
North Andover scored three runs in second inning, with two errors aiding their cause.
Central immediately answered with five runs in the second inning, thanks to two errors and, well, a three-run bomb over the centerfield fence by freshman Caitlin Milner.
"I wasn't looking for a home run," explained Milner, of Newton, N.H. "She had thrown me a riser earlier in the at bat, that I took for a strike. I realized she threw it again and was ready for it. I was just trying to hit it hard."
Central expanded the lead to 6-3 in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Brianna John.
The rest of the game was base runners galore, for both teams, but not much scoring until North Andover added a run sixth on a Ella Mancuso sacrifice fly, to make it 6-4, and then Maeve Gaffny led off the seventh inning with a solo shot to centerfield to close it to 6-5.
The Lady Knights got a walk and fielder's choice to get a runner at second base with two outs before a line drive went right to Central second baseman Olivia Boucher for the win.
"That was a big relief when Olivia caught that final out," said Central star sophomore pitcher Julia Malowitz, of Methuen. "Honestly, I didn't have a great game. I should've been better. I missed too many spots. But it feels real good to advance."
Central plays on Friday versus the winner of Bridgewater-Raynham and Taunton, which are supposed to play tomorrow.
Brigid Gaffney and Mancuso both had two hits for North Andover while Milner and Haley Rapaglia added two hits apiece for the victors.
"This was not a pretty game in a lot of ways," said Central coach Ciccolo. "But we showed some toughness. You'd like at least a day of rest for a big game like this. But both teams were in the same situation. We're happy to have another game."
Central Catholic 6, North Andover 5
North Andover (5)
Josilin Gove rf/p 4-0-0, Mania Mangiameli ss 4-0-1, Brigid Gaffny p/rf 4-0-2, Maeve Gaffny 1b 4-1-1, Juliana Roche c 4-1-1, Bridget Bernard 3b 2-1-0, Jessie Mangiameli lf 2-0-1, Amanda Steeley cf 3-2-1, Ella Mancuso dp 3-0-2, Emily Roundeau 2b 0-0-0, Totals 30-5-9
Julia Malowitz p 4-0-0, Oliva Boucher 2b 4-1-2, Caitlin Milner 3b 4-1-2, Haley Rapaglia ss 4-0-2, Katie Fox c 3-0-1, Bella Boyer cf 3-2-1, Amelia Ovalles dp 2-1-1, Ava Shea lf 2-0-0, Brianna John rf 2-1-0, Ava Iannessa 1b 0-0-0, Totals 28-6-9
NA (11-9) 030 001 1 — 5
CC (15-6) 051 000 X — 6
WP: Malowitz; LP: B.Gaffny
RBI: NA — Steeley 2, Mancuso, M. Gaffny; CC — Milner 3, Boucher, John