Engineers Charge Into D-IV Semifinals
Woodsville High softball players Paige Martin, kneeling, and Lottie Page cheer on their team during yesterday’s win. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)
Woodsville High pitcher Danelle Huntington prepares to fling a pitch yesterday during the Engineers’ 6-1 defeat of visiting Newmarket in an NHIAA Division IV quarterfinal game. Huntington tossed a two-hitter, striking out 10 batters and walking none. Shortstop Becca Haney crouches in the background. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)
Woodsville — The chance for redemption nearly a year in the making is at hand for the Woodsville High softball team after its 7-1 defeat of Newmarket yesterday in an NHIAA Division IV quarterfinal game.
The third-seeded Engineers, who reached the 2012 semifinals at Plymouth State only to lose 7-2 to eventual champion Wilton-Lyndeborough, will face second-seeded Colebrook, the division’s 2009 champion, on Wednesday afternoon at Plymouth State. The victor advances to face either the top-seeded Warriors or fourth-seeded Profile, which captured the crown in 2011.
“I’m expecting close, well-played games,” said Woodsville coach Dana Huntington, whose squad had seven hits and has won 12 consecutive games. “These are all experienced teams.”
The Engineers (15-3) earned their berth thanks to the coach’s daughter, senior pitcher Danelle Huntington, who tossed a two-hitter while striking out 10 Mules, walking none and allowing an unearned run. The 11th-seeded visitors scored their lone run during the fourth inning. Woodsville left the bases loaded three times and stranded 11 runners in all, so the damage could have been worse.
“I loved our number of hits, but their defense made some opportune plays at the right time and that created some of the runners being left on base,” said Dana Huntington, whose team scored three times with two outs. “We didn’t get the big, big hit today, but we were pretty close.”
Woodsville opened the scoring in the second when Dinah Joslin reached on an infield fielding error and was driven home by Kat Emley’s double. Emley, who took third on a throw home, scored for a 2-0 lead when Abby Simano bunted and the Mules’ catcher ran out to play the ball, leaving home plate unattended.
Danelle Huntington retired the first 10 batters she faced, one of them reaching on a dropped third strike. Newmarket broke through in the fourth when its leadoff hitter reached on a throwing error by third baseman Molly Ruprecht. The runner took second on the overthrow and third on a subsequent single, eventually scoring on a groundout.
Woodsville’s first two batters were retired in the fourth, but Emley drew a walk, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a Ruprecht single. A minute or two later, Huntington signaled Martin to bunt with two strikes but the sophomore couldn’t connect with a high pitch and struck out.
“I didn’t call for her to do quite what she did, but she’s an excellent bunter,” said Dana Huntington, who’s also fond of calling for steals deep into counts. “Sometimes teams relax and it makes it easier to catch them off-guard.”
Newmarket starting pitcher Courtney Fowler was relieved by Jess Selling just before Martin’s strikeout. The change didn’t help the Mules, who gave up four hits and five walks during the game’s last two innings. Sadie Matteson led off the fifth by reaching on a Selling throwing error, moved to third on a groundout and scored on Lottie Page’s double into the right-centerfield gap.
“My two pitchers just had trouble throwing strikes and that hasn’t been the case all year,” said Newmarket coach Jack Brown. “(Huntington) didn’t walk anybody and that was a huge difference. We only had two hits and you can’t win with that, especially when you can’t throw strikes. It’s not a good combination.”
Page, who had a single, a double and two RBIs, scored on a Emley single shortly after she reached second. The Engineers tacked on two more runs in the sixth before Danelle Huntington retired the Mules (8-10) in order in the seventh, locking up a return to Plymouth, her team’s home away from home of sorts.
“After we got to Plymouth the first couple years we started talking about how the seniors could leave a legacy by mentoring the younger kids,” Dana Huntington said. “You don’t have any hazing and it leads to a winning attitude. The seniors are willing to pass the torch on to the next generation.
“Our younger players are very talented and the seniors do a great job of leading. You see it in practice in the way they’re good to each other and the way they’re a cohesive group with good camaraderie.”
Notes: Woodsville has not played either Wilton-Lyndeborough or Colebrook this season, although it beat the Warriors for the 2010 state title and topped Profile 3-1 and 11-4 earlier this spring. … Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington is Dana’s brother and Danelle’s uncle. … Hank Tenney, the town of Hanover’s longtime recreation director, was one of two umpires working the bases. … Former Engineers player Morgan Maerder, a member of the 2010 title squad and now a student at Salem (Mass.) State University, served as first base coach yesterday.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.