As the weather warms up and the postseason grows closer, Reading softball coach Jill McElroy knew that Saturday’s showdown against a strong Newton North team was an important test for her group.
McElroy also knew the game was taking place on senior day and decided to give backup catcher Marissa Iapicca the start behind the plate.
Iapicca rewarded her coach’s decision by smacking an RBI single in the bottom of the second inning to open up the scoring for the Rockets, who won, 2-1, in a nonleague contest that had a tournament feel.
“Newton North is a great team and we’re always excited to play good competition and we wanted to put our kids in a tough game and let them figure it out,” McElroy said. “Marissa is a role player for us and for her to have that hit and pick our team up really loosened the atmosphere and the kids were ecstatic for her. "
No. 15 Reading (14-2) also received run support from Caroline Higgins, who drove in a run on a single in the bottom of the third inning. Jackie Malley and Grace Weston each scored for the Rockets.
McElroy’s squad battled through a tumultuous fifth inning to hold off a comeback by the Tigers (10-4).
Reading believed it had recorded an out on a ground ball, but the Newton North runner was called safe on a close play at first base and eventually scored after stealing second and advancing home on another error.
“There were a couple of calls that could have gone either way but I think the kids did a really good job of just letting them go and attending to their job,” McElroy said.
Annalise Grady, who only allowed two hits and struck out six, settled things down following the unearned run, getting out of the inning and not allowing the situation to spiral into a comeback.
That type of experience for the Rockets ace, who owns an 11-2 record and a 0.66 ERA, is the type of situation that McElroy is glad her team is facing before the tournament.
“Anna did a great job of letting the external stuff around her be and focusing on doing her job. She kept them off balance and got a lot of pop up outs,” McElroy said. “It was a game that tested us to lose and crumble but I think we controlled what we could control and we didn’t let it happen.”
Abington 3, Oliver Ames 0 — Shannon Varvitsiotis struck out nine and allowed two hits to earn the complete game shutout win in the circle for the Green Wave (12-2) in nonleague action. Maddie Perry collected two hits, drove in a run and scored twice for Abington.
Bishop Feehan 7, Dighton-Rehoboth 1 — McKenzie Faherty hit a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning and Maddy Coupal drove in three runs for the No. 1 Shamrocks (14-1) in the nonleague contest. Mylee Ramer earned the win in the circle, striking out four and allowing five hits for Feehan.
Bridgewater-Raynham 9, Marshfield 8 — Sophomore Taylor Reid (2 hits, 2 RBIs, run), senior Riain Keefe (3 hits, run), and senior Ashley Jacques (2 hits, run) led the offense, and freshman Holly Cleary got her first varsity win with four innings, allowing five runs on six hits for the Trojans (7-7) in the nonleague tilt.
Dennis-Yarmouth 15, Cohasset 9 — Freshman Charleigh Hicks capped a four-run comeback, crushing a bases-clearing double to take the lead in the fifth inning and finishing the game with four RBIs for the Dolphins (9-5). Senior captain Julia Hicks struck out 12 from the circle and added a two-run triple as the sisters helped earn the nonleague win.
Hingham 6, Norwell 5 — Maddie Aylward hit an RBI double in the seventh inning to lift the Harborwomen (10-3) to the nonleague win.
Latin Academy 12, O’Bryant 0 — Alanis Toledano didn’t allow a baserunner and struck out 14 for the Dragons (9-7) in the Boston City League win. Ellie Etemad-Gilbertson smacked a pair of home runs, including a grand slam.
Millis 15, Nantucket 2 — Junior Frankie Pizzarella went 4 for 4 with a homer and five RBIs, coming around to score twice and adding three stolen bases for the Mohawks (5-9). Sophmore Riley Caulfield pitched the full six innings, fanning seven, and freshman Lindsay Grattan had a pair of hits and three stolen bases, adding four runs scored.
Salem Academy 12, Lynn Tech 0 — Kaedynce Kauth didn’t allow a hit over five innings to earn the shutout win for the Navigators (13-2) in the nonleague contest. Cindy Shehu belted a home run and Suheily Pimental, Kianny Mirabal-Nunez, Yadeli Espinal and Lexi Walker each collected two hits for Salem Academy.
Bishop Feehan 15, Cardinal Spellman 10 — Senior captain Craig Scharland scored five goals, and Brady Vitelli added four goals to push the Shamrocks (9-5) to a Catholic Central win.
Falmouth Academy 14, Bishop Stang 6 — Jack Butler scored five goals to help the Mariners (6-6) pull out a nonleague win.
Nantucket 5, Pembroke 4 — Jack Halik dominated with three goals, and George Boucher had several important saves down the stretch to lead the Whalers (4-6) to a Cape & Islands win.
North Quincy 19, Dennis-Yarmouth 1 — Joe Manton excelled with five goals and two assists, and Teddy Lynch scored four times and added three assists to lead the Red Raiders (4-10) to a Patriot League victory.
Norwell 15, Scituate 9 — The No. 9 ranked Clippers (13-2) took down the No. 16 Sailors (11-3) in a huge nonleague matchup.
Pingree 17, Tilton 9 — Dylan Feeks scored five goals, and Mekhi Taylor (goal, assist) tallied two points to help Pingree (16-3) earn a nonleague win.
St. Sebastian’s 16, Groton 8 — Chris Merageas scored five goals and Tedy Frisoli tallied three goals to help the Arrows (4-2) pull out a hard-fought Independent School League win.
Apponequet 18, New Bedford 4 — Riley Levrault (5 goals) and Emilia Keane (4 goals) powered the Lakers (9-5) past the Whalers (6-2) in nonleague play. Addie Taylor and Abby Bradley each scored a goal.
Austin Prep 9, Woburn 8 — Maddie Vittands scored five goals, including the game-winner in overtime, for the Cougars (11-3) in the nonleague thriller.
Nantucket 19, Falmouth 15 — Sophomore Bailey Lower (5 goals) scored her 100th career goal to lead the Whalers (8-2) to a Cape & Islands victory. “Her passion and love for the game are clear to anyone who watches her play,” Nantucket coach Jami Lower said. “She is a determined young athlete, who is always working to improve her game.”
St. Mary’s 13, Saint Joseph Prep 7 — Hannah Coleman scored four goals for the Spartans (4-10-1) in the Catholic Central win.
Thayer 19, Brooks 9 — Katie Coughlin scored six goals, and Lydia Tangney (two goals) and Hillary Young (goal) chipped in to push the Tigers (5-0-1) to an Independent School League win.
Dover-Sherborn 3, Martha’s Vineyard 2 — The No. 11 Raiders continue their run, moving to 9-0 on the season with their win over the No. 17 Vineyarders (10-2).
Martha’s Vineyard 3, Dover-Sherborn 2 — Senior Tess Hammond and junior Andrea Morse earned the match’s deciding point at first doubles, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, to give the Vineyarders (14-0) the nonleague win.
Cambridge 3, Arlington 0 — Matthew Liu amassed 15 kills to propel the No. 14 Falcons (11-3) in the nonleague win. Isaac Wedaman added 9 kills in the victory.
Milford 3, Minnechaug 0 — The No. 9 Scarlet Hawks (12-2) took down the Falcons (8-9) in three straight sets.
Correspondents Peyton Doyle, Joseph Pohoryles, AJ Traub and Alex Walulik contributed to this story. To report scores, call 617-929-2860/3235 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet scores @GlobeSchools.
Colin Bannen can be reached at email@example.com.