Smithfeld girls down Warwick, 3-1

Smithfeld girls down Warwick, 3-1

SMITHFIELD - The Smithfield High School varsity softball team had its troubles against the Warwick Veterans starting pitching, but with two solid hits and some bunts, they pulled out the 3-1 victory in the Division I preliminaries last week.

Once the playoffs begin all bets are off. Smithfield, the two seed, saw a very different looking 15th seeded Warwick Vets than they saw earlier in the season. The Lady Hurricanes were not going to be a pushover taking the lead first.

"It's playoff softball and it will be close no matter who you are playing," Smithfield head coach Tony Torregrossa said.

It was a nail-biter as the Lady Sentinels fell behind 1-0 and then did not get on the board until the bottom of the fifth inning. They had a tough time trying to figure out Kayla Morin, the starting pitcher for the Lady Hurricanes.

"We always have a problem when we face a pitcher who is not terribly fast," Torregrossa said. "It takes a while to get adjusted and today we never really did. We had two hard hit balls, a double and the home run. We did not get a lot of hits."

After struggling through four innings of hitting pop ups and flares, the Sentinels changed their strategy after a few motivational speeches between innings going into the bottom of the fifth.

Analise England started things off dropping down a bunt. The first baseman went to field it, turned and threw but there was no one covering first allowing safe passage for England. From there England stole second and was sacrificed to third on a bunt by Miranda Sasso.

Abbi Cook lined out back to Morin before Ally Beaton walked. On a 1-0 pitch, Sam Laliberte ripped a double to center field scoring both England and Beaton, the tying and go-ahead runs to make the score 2-1 in Smithfield's favor.

Megan Long was in a groove on the mound for the Sentinels and had a one-two-three sixth inning, getting her offense right back out there. The Sentinels were able to add an insurance run in the bottom of the inning. After Long grounded out to second, Juliana Romeo dug in.

Romeo had already hit the ball hard in her first at bat but it was right at the center fielder in the second inning. She beat the first baseman to the bag for an infield hit in the fourth inning before coming up big in the sixth.

On a 2-1 pitch she hit a bullet to the center field fence and with her speed made it all the way around for an inside-the-park home run giving Smithfield the 3-1 lead.

"We don't strike out a lot," Torregrossa said. "We make contact and keep the ball in play going through the batting order and getting back up to the top."

Long continued her dominance in the seventh. She got her first batter to ground out to Jenna Haberle at third before striking out Arietta Chevian and pinch hitter Gabbrelliea Korlacki to end the game and eliminate the Hurricanes.

While the Sentinels made their nervous fans wait to make something happen, the Hurricanes got on the board first in the third inning. They had had two base runners prior to the third, a walk and a base hit.

In the third Naomi Franzen led off the inning working a walk. Chelsea Reid sacrificed her to second on a bunt and she went to third on a groundout. Morin helped her own cause hitting a short fly to left for a base hit to score Franzen for the 1-0 advantage. The Sentinels got out of the inning on a groundout to third and from there kept the Hurricanes at bay.

"Our strength is defense," Torregrossa said. "We made a couple nice plays in the outfield and in the infield. We have to do what we need to do."

The Sentinels will now play the winner of Chariho and Cranston High School West.

"It's not going to get easier," Torregrossa said. "But now we are in the double elimination. We have to keep hitting and pitching."

In their regular season finale, Long was almost perfect as she set down the first 18 Mount St. Charles Academy batters she faced to lead the Lady Sentinels to a 7-0 win.

Long finished with a one-hitter. Smithfield concluded the regular season at 13-3, good for second pace in Division I.