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Cards Reach Quarterfinals

Claremont — The third time was a charm.

After losing twice during the regular season to Monadnock, Stevens High won the game that counted the most, downing the Huskies 7-5 in a New Hampshire Division III first-round game at Veterans Park on a steamy afternoon yesterday.

Stevens, which made it to the D-III championship game last year, will head into the quarterfinals on Monday at 16-1 Campbell, a 9-0 winner over Bow in its first-round game yesterday.

The Cardinals will likely play that game without Gabby Cutts, their shortstop and cleanup hitter who suffered a left ankle sprain and bruise while making a tag on a steal attempt.

The two losses to Monadnock during the regular season were both by one run. Stevens coach Missy Nichols said both defeats were games in which “we beat ourselves,” she said. “We didn’t beat ourselves today.”

The Cards didn’t beat themselves because they made more plays on defense and ran the bases smarter.

Monadnock, the 10th seed at 11-6, had two runners thrown out at the plate and another runner that didn’t get back to first fast enough. The Huskies also had three costly outfield errors.

When Cutts went down in the fifth inning, Nichols made what looked like what looked like a strange move when she inserted Alexis Melcher, who throws left-handed, but can also play second base.

“Besides, we have all our kids move around to learn a lot of positions in practice,” she said.

With two out in the Monadnock seventh, Nichols moved Melcher back to her regular position in center field and put second baseman Abbey Rouillard at shortstop. Three pitches later, the ball went to Rouillard and the game was over.

Danielle Tenney pitched a complete game for the Cardinals. She threw 88 pitches, allowing five hits with one walk and two strikeouts. While Tenney did not have a lot of strikeouts, she kept a lot of balls from being hit hard with her off-speed pitches.

“I went to the changeup today and kept them off balance and was able to throw strikes,” said the senior right-hander. “Our team defense was amazing,” she added.

Stevens (13-4) came into the game red-hot, having won nine of its last 10 to earn the seventh spot, which gave it an all-important home-field edge in the first round.

If there was one key play in the game, it came in the fourth inning with Stevens leading 4-2. With the hot-hitting Jenna Deschaine (3 for 3) at the plate and the bases loaded, the junior rapped a single to left. The ball scooted past the left fielder and Nichols, coaching third, waved all three runners home, Deschaine ending up at third to make it a 7-2 game.

That made things a little easier as the Cardinals never scored again off Monadnock hurler Perri Adams. Meanwhile, the Huskies tacked on two runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth, but never could catch up.

Deschaine was also a big factor in the Cardinals’ three-run third. Rouillard had a triple to start the inning and scored when Melcher’s fly ball to center was misplayed. Deschaine then tripled to the left-center gap, scoring Melcher. Deschaine later tallied on an infield out.