BRISTOL - For the first time in eight meetings spanning back to the 2012 season, the Bristol Eastern softball team defeated Bristol Central on Monday afternoon by a score of 3-0.
Erin Girard blazed the way for the Lancers from the circle, striking out 11 Rams batters while only surrendering two hits. Girard had at least two strikeouts in four of the seven innings, with all four coming in the first five frames.
“She pitched really well today,” Bristol Eastern coach Scott Redman said. “She hit a lot of spots [and] she kept good hitters off-balance. She executed really well today and [catcher] Paige [McLaughlin] did a heck of a job as the backstop, calling a great game, framing pitches and giving a good look to the umpires. She gets a lot of credit.”
On the other side, Ali Holden put up a fight in the pitching duel for Bristol Central. While she only struck out five, Holden only surrendered more than one hit in an inning twice. Bristol Eastern scored two of their three runs in the second and seventh innings - the two innings that Holden gave up more than one hit.
“She’s pretty consistent,” Bristol Central coach Monica Hayes said about Holden. “That’s what you usually get from her. It’s just a matter of making plays behind her. She’s not a strikeout pitcher. She never has been.”
Bristol Eastern opened the scoring in the top of the second after Girard and Holden combined for four strikeouts in the first. Jill Maghini led off with a single and was moved over to second by a sacrifice bunt by Nicole D’Amato. After Alyssa Hackling got on base, Girard hit a single to score Maghini from second and move Rivoira - running for Hackling - to second.
Paige McLaughlin followed Girard with a bunt for a single to load the bases but Holden got Taylor Keegan to pop out to shortstop and Makenzie Jankowski to ground out to short to end the inning.
The Lancers were held off the board after that until the fifth inning. After Bristol Central third baseman Sarah Strilkauskas made a great play ranging to her left to start a 5-3 putout, Jordan Fitzsimons sent a Holden offering over the left fielder’s head. As she approached third, shortstop Peyton Greger received the cut-off throw and as Fitzsimons rounded third, she unleashed a throw toward home and her cousin, catcher Morgan Greger.
The throw was perfectly on target but, in just her second game behind the plate and with Fitzsimons bearing down, Morgan was unable to handle the throw, she and Fitzsimons collided and the runner was safe at home for the Lancers’ second run of the game.
“Peyton made a heck of a throw and I thought it should have been caught,” Hayes said. “This is only her second game behind the plate. I can’t blame her. It was her first time getting in a play like that and she probably got mixed up with the runner and she took a good shot there, too. I thought it should have been an out.”
Morgan was shaken up on the play but was able to continue playing and Holden got a 1-3 putout on the next batter and Strilkauskas made another great defensive play, grabbing a low line drive from Maghini out of the air for the final out of the inning.
The Rams held the Lancers to two runs until the final inning, when McLaughlin led off with her third hit in as many plate appearances, Keegan advanced her with a sacrifice bunt and Jankowski drove her in with a single to provide Bristol Eastern with some insurance.
Bristol Central threatened to make some noise in the bottom of the seventh, as Holden led off with a single. But Peyton Greger hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Holden, Strilkauskas struck out Kayla Beaulieu hit into a game-ending double play.