After a year away, Burlington is back in the Division 2 state title game thanks to a thrilling 4-3 walkoff win over Bishop Stang on Wednesday at Martin Park in Lowell.
After Lindsey Florent put Stang ahead in the top of the seventh with an RBI single, Burlington found itself just three outs from elimination. But there was no panic from the experienced Red Devils.
“We had the top of our order coming up and I thought if April Adams could get on it could be a game-changer and it proved to be,” said Burlington coach Kristen Mahoney.
Adams led off with a single to left into a defensive shift that had the Spartans playing with the slow pitch-esque short fielder in shallow left.
From there it was a little bit of small ball that got things really rolling for the Red Devils. Michaela Mazure and Haley Currie each reached on bunts to load the bases with nobody out and set the stage for Kaela Hersee.
The sophomore slugger wasted no time drilling the first pitch she saw into right field that scored Adams and Mazure with the tying and winning runs.
“The key was doing our job, getting bunts down and runners into scoring position, and then the big hit to win it,” said Mahoney.
It was a fitting end for the top two hitters in the Burlington lineup as they combined for five hits and three runs scored on the day.
“That’s why they are at the top of our lineup and they did their job today,” said Mahoney.
It was a tough pill to swallow for Bishop Stang, which led, 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2, but couldn’t put Burlington away.
“They are a good team,” said coach Daniel Sylvia. “We had an opportunity to win this game but we couldn’t close it.”
Burlington now has a chance to win the state title that eluded it two years ago when the Red Devils lost in extra innings to Waconah. They will play the Central-West winner Saturday at Worcester State.
St. Mary’s 4, Case 3 — St. Mary’s and Case met for the third time in the past four years to decide the Division 3 EMass championship at Taunton High School.
After falling behind, 3-1, in the first inning, the Spartans held the Cardinals scoreless for the remainder of the game and pushed across the winning run in the seventh inning to advance to the state final for the first time since winning it all in 2010.
St. Mary’s (20-5) will take on Assabet Valley for the state title Saturday at Worcester State’s Rockwood Park.
“We knew we had a tough opponent,” St. Mary’s coach Colleen Newbury said. “We played them in 2010 and ’11. It was just a matter of getting it going. Both teams played very well. There was some good softball played here today.”
Eighth-grade pitcher Mia Nowicki, the youngest girl on either team’s roster, picked up the win in relief for the Spartans, tossing three innings of one-hit, three-strikeout ball.
“Mia’s very poised,” said Newbury. “You would never know she’s an eighth-grader. It’s very unusual [to have someone so young pitch], but she’s strong and very athletic.”
The Spartans had 10 hits and were led by junior catcher Tatiana Doucette, who finished 2 for 3 with an RBI and scored the winning run in the seventh.
Case senior Allyson Santerre went 4 for 4, with a double and a triple for the Cardinals (21-4), who came in as the defending EMass champs.