Johnston ends Scituate’s playoff run

Johnston ends Scituate’s playoff run

Scituate freshman Talia St. Angelo smacks a single to center field in the top of the first inning of last week’s Division II playoff game against Johnston at Johnston Memorial Park. St. Angelo’s hit was one of only two in the game for the Spartans, who suffered a 2-0 loss. (Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)
Softball team’s 14-6 mark is program’s best Div. II record

JOHNSTON – After winning the Division III championship last year, the Scituate High softball team did its best to repeat its success in this season’s D-II playoffs.

But the Spartans’ run in the double-elimination tournament lasted just three games, and last Wednesday, June 6, they were eliminated in the second round of the losers’ bracket by Johnston, 2-0, at Johnston Memorial Park’s Mazzulla Field.

“Johnston played better than we did,” Scituate head coach John Lickert said. “(Johnston pitcher Madison Plouffe) pitched a good game. She didn’t strike anybody out, but we only had two hits and didn’t score a run.”

After rolling to a 19-0 record and winning its first championship since 2009 in its one-year stay in D-III last year, Scituate was moved back up to Division II before the start of this season. The Spartans had to replace their outgoing pitcher, but did so with a standout in freshman Haley Venturini, who quickly established herself as one of the division’s elite pitchers.

Against the Panthers, Venturini pitched a five-hitter and struck out a dozen batters, but walks ended up hurting her, as she gave up six, and two of them came around to score.

“For a freshman to come in and dominate like that, with 14 wins, nine shutouts, and over 250 strikeouts in over 100 innings pitched, that speaks for itself,” said Lickert. “You don’t see that too often.”

Last week’s game was moving at a quick pace until the bottom of the third inning. Plouffe worked a walk, and after Jordan Moretti laid down a bunt and beat it out for a hit, Venturini walked Lauren Civetti to load the bases and Sophia DaCosta to force in a run.

The fifth was when Johnston struck again, this time with two outs. DaCosta walked for the third straight time, Katerina St. Angelo singled to center, and Emily Raposo hit a ground single into the outfield that just got past shortstop Jane Owens and allowed DaCosta to score.

As for the Spartans, their best chance to score came in the fifth. With two outs, Skylar Dumas battled back from an 0-2 count to walk. Her younger sister, Liberty Dumas, then hit a fly ball to right-center field, and when the center field and right fielder collied in pursuit of it, the ball was dropped. Not running on the pitch, Skylar only made it to third, while Liberty continued to second. Unfortunately for Scituate, the inning ended when the next batter popped out to the shortstop.

Scituate put another runner in scoring position in the sixth, as Venturini smacked a double over the center fielder’s head, but she was stranded at second.

The Spartans wrap up their season with a 14-6 mark, which is their best record in D-II since the program’s moved to fast-pitch in 1994. The Spartans are only losing one player to graduation, Owens, who will continue her softball career at Division I Bryant University next spring, but everyone else on the roster is expected to be back.

The Spartans, who were the fourth seed in the playoffs, began the postseason with a 4-0 defeat to 5th-seeded Rogers on May 30, but came back to Manning Field the next day to take a 6-5 thriller from 9th-seeded Mount Saint Charles in their losers’ bracket opener.

Scituate was down by a 5-0 score after 5½ innings of play and six outs away from exiting the playoffs, but the Spartans scored a run in the bottom of the sixth, added four more in the seventh to force extra innings, and won the game in the eighth when Skylar Dumas reached on a fielder’s choice grounder and eventually scored from third on a line single to left by Liberty Dumas.

Venturini ended up pitching a five-hitter that saw her strike out 19 batters.