BRISTOL - Erin Girard isnâ€™t used to leaving games in the fourth inning.
The two-time All-State selection for the Bristol Eastern softball team is accustomed to ending games in the circle, but on Friday against Plainville, Girard happily gave way to teammate Alison Tellier, as the duo combined to help shut down the Blue Devils and get back in the win column.
â€śI felt pretty good today,â€ť Girard said after tossing four shutout innings in a 9-3 victory for the Lancers. â€śI knew me and Allie were splitting the game, and I was super proud of her. I was happy with how both of us did.â€ť
Tellier relieved Girard and came one out away from a scoreless outing herself before the Blue Devils pushed across three runs to avoid the shutout.
â€śOur trademark this year is that we donâ€™t give up,â€ť Plainville head coach Scott Marcucio said. â€śWe fight until the end in every single game. I expected us to do that today. We started to make contact and hit the ball harder.â€ť
Eastern hit the ball hard right out of the gate, starting the scoring in the bottom of the second with a little help from the Plainville defense. After Girard was hit by a pitch and Riley Giblin knocked a single through the shortstop hole, the Lancers had two runners aboard with one out. The Blue Devils got a big out when Mackenzie Alvorado struck out Kylie Wolfradt for the second out, but catcher Aliana Shover dropped the pitch and fired to first, which was unnecessary with first and second base occupied. The throw sailed over first baseman Kayla Wisz and into right field, creating a live ball and an opportunity for Girard to score standing up, giving Eastern a 1-0 lead.
After another scoreless frame from Girard, the Lancers (14-5) gave their ace some more run support in the third, putting two runners on again thanks to a double by Zoe Lowe and a single by Alyssa Hackling. With one out and runners on the corners, Alvarado got the ground ball she needed from Easternâ€™s Lauren Aparo, but Aparoâ€™s speed erased the chance of a double play and allowed Lowe to score and give the Lancers a two-run lead.
Eastern scrapped for runs in the second and third, but broke out the bats in the fourth behind four straight hits to start the inning. The bottom of the order got it started, as Giblin and Wolfradt began the frame with singles to left, turning the lineup over for Taylor Keegan, who smashed a double to score Giblin after she recorded her second of four hits on the day.
â€śI think that was huge for her,â€ť Eastern head coach Scott Redman said of Giblinâ€™s big day. â€śSheâ€™s been beating herself up for a week or so when sheâ€™s been struggling. A day like today is going to wipe out three games of struggling.â€ť
Paige McLaughlin followed with a base hit to plate Wolfradt and Keegan, breaking open a 5-0 lead for Eastern.
While Tellier picked up right where Girard left off in the circle, so did the Eastern bats went they came up again in the bottom of the fifth. The Lancers pushed across four runs thanks to another rally started by the bottom of the order. Tellier led off and reached on an error, and advanced to third when Giblin rocked her third hit of the day, a double down the left field line. Wolfradt drove in Tellier with a sacrifice fly to center, and Giblin scored on Keeganâ€™s third hit of the afternoon. After a McLaughlin double, pinch hitters Lyzah Corliss and Jasmine Perez drove in a pair of runs with an RBI groundout and a base hit up the middle, respectively, to give the Lancers a 10-0 lead.
Easternâ€™s commanding advantage had the bottom of the orderâ€™s fingerprints all over it, as the teamâ€™s seven, eight and nine hitters (Girard/Tellier, Giblin and Wolfradt) combined to go 5-for-10 with an RBI and five runs scored.
â€śAll year weâ€™ve had good, balanced production,â€ť Redman said. â€śItâ€™s a different kid every day almost. That wasnâ€™t a big surprise to me, but it was nice to see for sure.â€ť
The Blue Devils (7-11) tacked on their only runs of the game in the seventh thanks to an RBI base hit by Shai-yonna Durham and a two-run double by Annie Roux, all with two outs. Roux finished 2-for-3 on the day with two RBI to lead the Plainville offense, which came up short against the Lancers for the ninth straight game dating back to 2014.
â€śWe did pretty well this game, considering last time they mercy ruled us,â€ť Roux said. â€śIt was good to put up a fight at the end. We had a lot of fight in us, and we have for the last few games.â€ť
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org