Scituate, Smithfield rule Division II softball ranks

Scituate, Smithfield rule Division II softball ranks

Scituate High freshman center fielder and leadoff batter Kate Nickerson has helped her softball team roll out to a 10-0 start and establish itself as the team to beat in Division II this season. (Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)
At 10-0, Venturini, Spartans remain team to beat; second-place Sentinels hike win streak to 10 games

SMITHFIELD – Scituate vs. Smithfield in the Division II championship series?

With less than a week to play in the regular season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the two neighboring softball rivals battling for the title on the final weekend of the month at Rhode Island College.

However, it would be a major shock to not see the Spartans and their senior ace pitcher, Haley Venturini, vying for the crown, especially since they own the division’s best record at 10-0 and finally gave up their first run of the season in their 7-1 victory over Lincoln High on Sunday afternoon at Manning Field.

Venturini continued her magnificent spring by striking out 18 batters and allowing two walks, one hit, and an unearned run in the top of the fifth inning, but the Spartans responded by scoring twice in the bottom of that inning and the sixth.

Offensively, sophomore third baseman Ashlyn Ring quietly continued her excellent season at the plate by collecting a base hit, double, and triple and scoring a pair of runs. Freshman center fielder Katie Nickerson scored three times, and Venturini helped her cause with two hits. Freshman catcher Maura Pendergast, Ring, and Venturini also drove in runs.

Prior to that win, the Spartans had swept their home-and-away series with Mount Saint Charles Academy by posting a 6-0 win at home last Thursday and a 2-0 victory two days earlier in Woonsocket.

Last Thursday’s victory saw Venturini give up more than one hit in a game for the first time this year, as she ended up with a two-hitter that included 18 strikeouts and two walks. Venturini also singled, doubles, and drove in two runs; Ring added two hits, two RBIs, and two runs scored, and Nickerson tripled and crossed the plate three runs.

The first win over the Mounties featured a neat pitchers’ duel between Venturini and MSC sophomore ace pitcher Olivia Young, who tossed a two-hitter. But Venturini countered with a no-hitter, striking out 17 and walking two, and the Spartans backed her with runs in the top of the first and fourth innings.

In 64 innings this spring, the Hofstra University-bound Venturini has struck out 157 batters and allowed 11 walks and six hits.

Smithfield, meanwhile, has also won 10 games in a row after opening its season with back-to-back losses to Scituate, and on Monday afternoon, the Sentinels grabbed one of their biggest victories of the season by defeating Toll Gate on the road in a battle for second place.

Thanks to a three-run rally in the top of the fifth inning, which was sparked by run-scoring singles from sophomore Ella Bose and freshmen Haley Ellis and Brenna Lawrence, the Sentinels were able to defeat the Titans, 5-3, and drop Toll Gate’s record to 7-2. Sophomore pitcher Cayley McCurdy tossed a six-hitter for the Sentinels to pick up the win.

Last Saturday, McCurdy pitched one of her best games of the season to lead the Sentinels to a 3-0 victory over the Mounties, as she blanked MSC on five hits and struck out 10 batters.

The Sentinels only collected six hits off Young, but one of them was a two-run triple in the fifth by sophomore Lauren Boyd and another was a home run in the fourth by her classmate, Leah Saunders.

The Sentinels also swept their home-and-away series with Johnston last week by 14-2 and 5-3 scores. Juniors Danielle Tourgee and Cassidy Conlin, freshman Skyla Oliveira, Saunders, and Boyd each collected three hits in the lopsided win, and Ellis, Oliveira, and McCurdy were the top players in the Sentinels’ two-run victory.

The Spartans will wrap up their regular season with a home-and-away series against Toll Gate that began on Tuesday afternoon at Manning Field and will conclude on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Warwick’s Winslow Park.

The Sentinels, who were scheduled to visit the Mounties on Wednesday, will host the Titans on Thursday at 4 p.m. in their division finale.

The playoffs are expected to begin next Monday afternoon with preliminary-round action.