SRA stays unbeaten, rules showdown with Scituate

SRA stays unbeaten, rules showdown with Scituate

St. Raphael Academy freshman ace pitcher Sami Simonds blanked Scituate High on three hits for the second time this season in the Saints’ 9-0 victory last Thursday afternoon at the Hank Soar Complex. Simonds struck out 15 batters and walked none to help the Saints improve their Division II record to 12-0. (Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)
Simonds helps softball team improve D-II record to 12-0

PAWTUCKET – It was supposed to be one of the best Division II softball games of the year, as two of the D-II’s top teams – with two of the state’s best pitchers – faced off last Thursday at the Hank Soar Complex.

But while Scituate did not pitch its sophomore ace, Haley Venturini, St. Raphael Academy went with its number one pitcher, freshman Sami Simonds, and she delivered a three-hitter that helped her team come away with a 9-0 win and remain undefeated at 12-0.

The first time these two teams faced each other, in SRA’s season opener on April 9 at Scituate’s Manning Field, Venturini was on the mound and basically went strikeout for strikeout with Simonds. Having seen Venturini pitch twice earlier last week, Scituate head coach John Lickert decided to put his ace at shortstop last Thursday and pitch Alison Roy.

“I thought it was going to be Sami/Haley, but it is what it is,” SRA head coach Ron LaBree said. “The first game, I wasn’t there, but (the team) told me how good of a game it was, so I wanted to see it.

“But when (the players) saw (Venturini) not pitching, I said, ‘Listen, it doesn’t matter, you still have to beat that team,’” LaBree added. “Before the game, we were in the gym and we turned the machine up to 65 (mph) because that’s what we thought we were getting. It took a couple innings to get them going and get their timing back, but once they did, they hit the ball hard.”

Roy retired the first five batters she faced, but in the bottom of the second inning, the Saints took a 3-0 lead.

With two outs, Saylor Costa hit a pop-up that fell in the infield near the second baseman and she beat out the throw. Madison Nault walked, and after a passed ball put runners in scoring position, Gia Porcelli, who ran for Costa, scored when Kasey Contreras’ grounder was misplayed. Nault and Contreras then scored on an error by the center fielder, who dropped a fly ball.

The Saints added two more runs in the third, but really broke out in the fourth as 10 players went to bat and scored four runs to finish Roy’s day on the mound. Tori Jacques and Taylor Troiano began the rally with back-to-back singles, Jillian Serra hit a run-scoring double to left field, and Simonds also drove in a run with a base hit to left.

“I thought Jillian hit the ball really hard,” LaBree said. “And freshman Jordan Taylor also stung a couple of them. I’m glad to have her back. She was fighting the flu and she was out for about a week.”

Simonds, meanwhile, was on her game, as she struck out 15 batters, including six in a row, and walked no one. She gave up a leadoff single up the middle by Lexi Parker, a double to left in the fourth to Talia St. Angelo, and a two-out single to left in the sixth to Venturini.

“Sami pitched well,” LaBree said. “She pounds the strike zone like she always does. She didn’t walk anybody and that’s the key and she knows that. I’ve seen her throw better, but she threw well enough to win it. She keeps us in the game, and when they do make contact, we have a good defense, so she doesn’t have to worry about that.”

The Saints were two days removed from their last victory, a 9-0 win over Toll Gate, as Simonds struck out 16 batters in pitching a five-hitter. Troiano led the way offensively with three hits with two runs batted in, and Serra added two hits and three RBIs.

With four games left in his team’s regular season, including Saturday afternoon’s game at Block Island, LaBree wants to keep his players focused to win the division.

“It’s getting to that time of the year – school is ending, seniors want out, everybody’s thinking prom – that they start to lose focus a little bit,” he said. “We just have to keep them focused.”