Underdog Pythons Slither Their Way Past Tigers
Newport High catcher Lindsy Desmarais tags out Pelham runner Hannah Paitchel during the third inning of yesterday’s NHIAA Division III, second-round playoff game. The host Tigers lost 3-2. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Newport High batter Mindy Carl awaits a pitch during yesterday’s 3-2 loss to visiting Pelham in an NHIAA Division III softball second-round game. Her sister, Stephanie, waits in the on-deck circle. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Newport — The little things became big problems for the Newport High softball team during yesterday’s 3-2 loss to Pelham in a second-round, NHIAA Division III playoff game. The sixth-seeded Tigers faced a strong foe in the 11th-seeded Pythons, but the fatal wounds were mostly self-inflicted.
“It came down to one or two errors that just killed us,” said second-year Newport coach Meredith McAllister. “We were probably a little nervous, with our kids getting into the second round of the playoffs for the first time, but we’ve played nearly flawless ball all season. We had one game with eight errors, but all the others we had either one or none.”
Newport committed three errors yesterday, but had several other plays that caused its supporters to groan. Two of Pelham’s runs were unearned and the one that wasn’t might as well have been. Pelham improved to 11-6 while Newport ended its season at 13-4, losing its second consecutive contest after reeling off a six-game winning streak.
“We all tried our hardest, but we were hot and tired and we made mental errors and a couple of bad throws,” said Tigers pitcher Stephanie Carl, who tossed a four-hitter with five strikeouts and one walk. “We could have made it further in the playoffs, but there’s always next year.”
The Pythons squeezed out the game’s first run when Kelsey Grimard singled and eventually scored on a throwing error in the first inning. Pelham also threatened in the third, but had a runner thrown out at the plate and another caught stealing.
The visitors pushed their lead to 2-0 during the fifth with a two-out rally that featured a single followed by a sinking line drive up the middle. Newport center fielder Noelle Peterson ran in on the ball, but when it bounced past her, she continued trotting toward the infield. Right fielder Ally Doucette charged after the ball only when it became evident Peterson wasn’t turning around, allowing it to roll deep into the grass for a run-scoring triple.
“That was a huge error,” said McAllister, whose team induced a groundout on the next pitch to end the inning.
Newport looked like it would answer in the bottom of the fifth, but another mistake left it empty-handed. Doucette drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a groundout to first. The next batter, Sophie Willis, flied out to left field and Doucette advanced to third, but Pelham coach Todd Lozeau shouted for the ball to be thrown back to second. When it was, Doucette was called out for leaving the bag too early.
The Pythons scored what proved to be the winning run on another series of Newport gaffes in the sixth. Leadoff batter Melissa Mogauro reached first on a fielding error by shortstop Sky Curtis. When first baseman Mindy Carl went to throw the ball back to her sister in the pitching circle, the senior chucked it low and past the freshman and out of play, allowing Moguaro to take second. Two wild pitches followed and Mogauro scored.
Newport showed life in its half of the sixth when Stephanie Carl belted a ball into the right-center field gap for an inside-the-park home run.
“I was instantly thinking I wanted to get home,” she said. “I knew I had the speed to do it once it bounced between (the fielders).”
The Tigers scored again in the seventh when Doucette reached first on an outfield error, moved to third on a Lewis single and scored on a Willis shot down the left field line that kicked up chalk on its initial bounce. Peterson followed with her team’s seventh strikeout, however, and Newport’s season was over.
“We seemed very confident before the game, maybe too confident,” said McAllister, whose team had six hits and will lose two seniors to graduation, one of them Mindy Carl, who plans to play at Lyndon State College next spring. “But it was a great season, phenomenal. We were 6-11 last year and we started two freshmen. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.