Every time that she stepped into the circle, Ragini Kannan was smiling ear-to-ear.
Her confidence shone through in leading the Westford Academy softball team to the Dual County League tournament title with a 5-2 win over Lincoln-Sudbury Wednesday afternoon.
No. 14 Westford Academy (14-1) combined a stellar effort from Kannan with putting the ball in play and taking risks on the base paths offensively to win the DCL championship in coach Gina Mustoe’s first year at the helm.
Kannan pitched a complete game, allowing two runs, three hits, and struck out 10. Working all parts of the plate effectively, the junior utilized her fastball to keep the Warriors off-balance and unable to generate hard contact.
“She is committed 12 months a year,” said Mustoe. “She works every chance she gets. Her dad has bruises from catching her for years. She puts the time in and it shows.”
Kannan, who began pitching when she was 9, has always felt comfortable with her spins due to a more natural wrist flick motion. The efficiency of her counter-clockwise rotating spins helps highlight her fastball, which showcases a combination of a strong snapping motion and powerful stride.
“I’ve been working on my fastball more than my other pitches,” said Kannan. “I usually throw my spins more than my fastball, because I personally feel like they are more effective. Even if I don’t necessarily snap it with my fastball, if I move my wrist a little bit, it’ll automatically start spinning. It’s just a matter of me focusing on my release point and my wrist snaps.”
The Grey Ghosts mustered only four hits, but stole three bases and put the onus on the defense to make plays.
Westford capitalized on two Warrior errors in the bottom of the first to open the scoring. In the third inning, sophomore catcher Mia Clark arced a single into left field, scoring junior April Collamore, doubling their lead. Senior second baseman Robyn Brice had an RBI single and later scored in the fourth inning, taking advantage of defensive miscues for 4-0 cushion.
In the sixth, Lincoln-Sudbury (9-6) cut the lead to 4-2. Ellie Marchand smacked an RBI triple over the right fielder’s head, scoring Grace Jorjorian. Marchand crossed the plate on the next at-bat, courtesy of Claudia Mazzocchi single past the outstretched glove of Bryce.
After adding an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, Kannan set the Warriors down in order, including striking out the final two batters looking, to seal the championship win.
Plymouth South 3, Plymouth North 1 — Amelia Freitas dug into the batter’s box in the top of the fourth inning, the score knotted 0-0, in the Patriot Cup final.
In the top of the first, she had been robbed of a likely RBI single when Plymouth North’s Kylee Carafoli made a diving catch at shortstop to end the inning, stranding a runner at third. Freitas made sure her second at-bat counted, ripping a run-scoring triple to left field, providing the 16th-ranked Panthers (12-2) a lead they would not surrender in a win over No. 15 Plymouth North (10-3)
“I wanted to get a big hit there and I knew this field doesn’t have a fence so I wanted to put something out there and let it roll,” said Freitas, South’s lone senior.
The Panthers rode a dominant pitching performance from Freitas to victory: the University of Albany commit firing a complete game, striking out six while only surrendering one run to the host Eagles (10-3).
“When she’s in her zone it’s very contagious and it’s like nothing else matters in that moment,” said Plymouth South coach Steph Finn. “Her energy is such a positive for our team.”
The Panthers also received offensive contributions from junior Alyssa Briggs, who had an RBI single in the seventh to expand the lead and freshman Lauren Trostel, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
South, the sixth seed in the Division 2 South bracket, now awaits the winner of the Cardinal Spellman/Canton preliminary-round game after receiving a first-round bye. The Patriot Cup victory serves as another building block for South as they move their focus to a deep tournament run.
“We needed to accomplish this, we’ve been piecing things together, and today we put another puzzle piece in,” said Finn. “It’s a nice feeling to be coaching a team like this where everyone can step up for us.”
Newton North 2, Natick 0 — After four days of weather and field delays, the 12th-ranked Tigers (14-2) rode the stellar pitching of junior Ella Maher to the Bay State Conference Tournament title with the shutout of the No. 7 Redhawks (14-2) in Natick.
“I think because I had a few days off, I was able to get into practice and just focus on my spin more,” said Maher, who struck out eight, walked one, and allowed two hits. “I definitely felt I was more loose today now that I had a few days off.”
The Tigers got on the board early as sophomore shortstop Maya Tuozzolo scored on an error by the Redhawks. They bookended the scoring with another run in the top of the seventh inning. Senior captain Bri Mercedes doubled after fouling off several pitches, and junior outfielder Abby Hodgson tripled her home, each with two outs in the inning.
“It was awesome,” coach Lauren Baugher said. “I think people could breathe a little easier at that time. I think Bri had incredible at-bats and was really able to fight and battle. She’s one of our captains this year and has led by example.”
“They all work really hard,” she added. “It’s nice for them to see that their hard work is paying off.”
Newton North will host Malden on Friday in the Division 1 North tourney, and Natick welcomes in the Needham/Mansfield winner in D1 South.
St. Mary’s 14, Arlington Catholic 2 — Jill Kirby, Alyssa Grossi, Marina DeBlasio, Lily Newhall, Anna Fringuelli tallied multiple hits as the No. 5 Spartans (19-2) cruised to the six-inning victory in the Catholic Central Cup final. Newhall struck out five for the win.
Dighton-Rehoboth 9, Somerset Berkley 2 — Senior Xavier Botelho tallied two hits and three RBIs for the Falcons (9-2) in the South Coast Conference win.
Whitman-Hanson 8, Plymouth South 1 — Bobby Marshall yielded three hits over seven innings, striking out seven without yielding a walk as the host Panthers (11-2) captured the inaugural Patriot Cup championship.
Though W-H had won two Patriot League titles in over the last five seasons, coach Pat Cronin said that capturing the league’s postseason tournament came with a different feeling.
“This one’s unique,” Cronin said. “It’s the first [Patriot Cup], it’s at the end of a shortened season. I think one of the things that makes it enjoyable is that they didn’t win the league title – Plymouth North got us twice – so I think that kind of softened it for us.”
W-H got to South for six runs in the home half of the first inning, with senior Ty Gordon and junior Ethan Smith each delivering two-run doubles.
“It was nice to be able to see the kids celebrate with an actual cup right on the mound,” Cronin said. “It’s a nice way to finish off a regular season and I think it has a nice added advantage in that it resembles the state tournament.” Marshall aided his own cause with two hits.
Austin Prep 3, Bishop Feehan 2 — Senior captain Eddie Wei set the tone early, winning the first match, 6-2, 6-1, at third singles to put the Cougars (12-3) up early, and junior captain Chris Gerety (6-3, 6-1 at No. 1) and junior Aidan Connors (6-0, 6-1 at No. 3) each picked up big wins in singles, pushing the Cougars to the win in the Catholic Central League Cup final in Reading.
Duxbury 5, Plymouth South 0 — The match was already decided, and the championship sealed, but Jake Berry continued to battle like a title was on the line. Berry, a senior captain and standout at No. 1 singles, rallied to earn a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory, helping the Keenan Division 1-seed Dragons (14-0) outlast the Fisher Division 2-seed Panthers (10-4) at Duxbury High and clinch the Patriot Cup.
Jack Bettencourt won, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), at 2 singles, Colby Hall cruised, 6-0, 6-0, at 3 singles, Tucker Catalano and Rory Quigley prevailed, 6-2, 6-1, at 1 doubles, and Davis Stapleton and Adam Sohmer earned a 6-0, 6-1 victory at 2 doubles.
“It’s amazing. It’s everything,” the senior captain Quigley said. “It feels really good our senior year to get some hardware.”
The Dragons, the top seed in the Division 2 South bracket, now turn their attention to the MIAA tournament. They hope the Patriot Cup is only the beginning, but regardless, they plan to cherish it.
“I don’t think anyone’s ever going to take it away from us,” Duxbury coach John Bunar said. “The kids were the best team in the league this year. They played the second best team in the league and beat them.”
Austin Prep 3, Bishop Feehan 2 — With the score tied at 2, attention shifted to the second doubles match in the Catholic Central League Cup final. Austin Prep freshmen Kylie McDonald and Katherine Millett fought back after losing the first set 5-7, winning the final two sets, 6-4, 6-1, to earn the win and the CCL championship for the host Cougars (12-2).
Dartmouth 3, Bridgewater-Raynham 2 — The Indians (8-3) won all three singles matches, headlined by Jaffa Heryudono, who came back to win 5-7, 7-5, 6-4, at first singles to hand Dartmouth the Southeast Conference championship.
Colin Bannen reported from Plymouth, Trevor Hass from Duxbury, and AJ Traub from Natick. Jake Levin and Mike Puzzanghera also contributed to this report. To report scores, call 617-929-2860/3235 or email email@example.com.