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With ‘textbook’ execution in the eighth inning, 13th-seeded North Andover softball dealt No. 4 Wachusett its first loss

North Andover junior catcher Jenna Roche watched the first pitch of every at-bat crowd her on the inside part of the plate. Leading off in the top of the eighth inning, she prepared for a pitch middle-in.

Roche ripped a double down the left-field line to kick off the inning, advanced on a sacrifice bunt, and was plated by junior Brigid Gaffny’s sacrifice fly.

The run held as the winner, as 13th-seeded North Andover captured a 2-1 victory over No. 4 Wachusett in the second round of the Division 1 tournament on Friday. The Scarlet Knights (15-7) will take on No. 5 Peabody (19-1) in the quarterfinals at 3 p.m. on Sunday.


“It’s textbook,” said North Andover coach Cait Flanagan of the team’s fundamentals in the top of the eighth. “It’s what you hope happens when you bunt somebody over. To have Jenna hit a double that hard, it’s unreal.”

Gaffny excelled in the circle, striking out nine and scattering five hits. With Roche calling pitches behind the dish, the two share a high-level connection and used it to limit runners in scoring position for the previously unbeaten Mountaineers (21-1).

“She was lights out,” said Flanagan. “She had their number, big time. She was hitting her spots and keeping them off balance.”

Junior first baseman Ella Mancuso singled in the second inning and scored on a passed ball.

As the Scarlett Knights embarked on a 55-mile bus ride back home, the team erupted in song, ending with “Someone Like You” by Adele. Battle-tested all season in an exceptionally strong Merrimack Valley Conference, the Scarlett Knights had confidence in their ability to be the first team to defeat the Mountaineers.

“It was such a classic win, deep into the tournament,” said Flanagan. “It’s one of those games that you expect this late in the tournament.


“That’s what the MVC does. We’ve played several tight games, going into extra innings, and have been on both sides of it, winning and losing, so we have that experience.”

Division 3 State

Middleborough 8, Hudson 5 — Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, the sixth-seeded Sachems (19-4) exploded for a six-run burst powered by two-run homers from Alex Welch and Paige Rooney to top No. 3 Hudson. Eva Jenness plated the other two runs in the fourth as Middleborough advances to the state semifinals, where it will face second-seeded Dighton-Rehoboth or No. 7 Triton, whose game was suspended in the fourth inning.

Norton 5, Apponequet 1 (suspended) — Play was halted with the Lancers in a jam, despite holding the lead in the top of the fifth. The Lakers have the bases loaded with no outs. Zoe Trinque scored following a bases-loaded walk to Ariana Camara. Sandy Fairbairn scored twice and Sienna Pietrasiewicz recorded three RBIs for the Lancers. Play will resume Saturday at 11 a.m.

Triton 2, Dighton-Rehoboth 0 (suspended) — The visiting Vikings hold a two-run advantage after Jillian Guisto smacked a RBI single in the third inning and Kyla Story followed it up with a RBI single of her own in the fourth. Play will resume with one out in the bottom of the fourth on Sunday at 5 p.m.

Girls’ lacrosse

Division 1 state

Franklin 15, Wellesley 5 — In a playoff battle between the last two state runners-up, the seventh-seeded Panthers took advantage of the whistles in a quarterfinal road upset over No. 2 Wellesley.


Similar to its regular-season win over the Raiders (16-7), Franklin (20-3) capitalized on free starts, netting four of their first six goals after Wellesley penalties.

“Because of the zone defense they ran, we knew we’d get the three-second calls,” Franklin coach Kristin Guarino said. “So we were ready for the eight meters. The girls did a nice job finishing off the whistle.”

The visitors carried a 5-2 lead into halftime and outscored Wellesley, 7-3, over the final 25 minutes. Franklin seniors Kaitlyn Carney (7 goals, assist) and Lindsay Atkinson (3 goals, assist) paced the Panthers attack, combining to score 10 of Franklin’s first 11 goals.

“Against their zone defense, finding shooting spaces was key,” said Carney, a James Madison commit. “We worked on the elbows and around the arc to create that space, which was huge.”

Wellesley sophomores Olivia Comella and Kailyn Uller each scored twice against Franklin, which now awaits the winner of No. 6 Longmeadow and third-seeded Westwood in the semifinals.

Division 2 state

Notre Dame (Hingham) 19, Burlington 5 — Alexa Kenney had the hot stick, netting six goals and assisting on four more, for the top-seeded Cougars (23-0) in their quarterfinals win. “It is always tough to wait out a rain delay,” said coach Meredith McGinnis. “But the team stayed focused and was ready to compete.” The Cougars leaped out to a commanding 14-2 halftime lead. McGinnis said that although her team struggled on draws, they managed to make the most of each and every possession. Jane Hilsabeck netted four goals for the Cougars.


Division 3 state

Norwell 9, Cohasset 8 — With a grudge match vs. Cohasset looming, Norwell girls’ lacrosse coach Kara Connerty said her team ran through some overtime situations in practice on Thursday.

Practice proved prophetic for the sixth-seeded Clippers, who took to the road to defeat the third-seeded Skippers on the strength of senior Maddie McDonald’s winner 2:17 into the extra session to advance to the semifinals.

“To be able to make it to the final four, the goal obviously is to play your best lacrosse in tournament and tonight was evidence of that,” Connerty said.

McDonald netted four goals to lead Norwell (18-4) past its South Shore League archrival, her final strike coming on a backdoor cut and subsequent feed from sophomore Holly Panttila.

In a game in which neither team led by more than a goal, it was Cohasset (18-4) that took advantage of a Clippers turnover to force overtime on Libby Schiffman’s equalizer inside of the final minute. But Norwell controlled the draw to open overtime, its fifth straight win courtesy of Panttila.

Junior Danielle Cox had two goals and two assists and sophomore Charlotte Pithie made eight saves in goal for Norwell, which dropped its season opener against Cohasset, 6-3, on April 4 at home.

The Clippers face either No. 2 Medfield or No. 7 Hanover in the semifinals, both of whom Norwell faced at home in the regular season. The Clippers fell against Medfield, 14-9 on April 29, and defeated Hanover, 10-3 on May 17.


Division 4 state

Weston 17, Hamilton-Wenham 15 — Surviving the gauntlet of the Dual County League continues to pay dividends for Weston.

The second-seeded Wildcats are bound for the state semifinals after a slugfest win over No. 7 Hamilton-Wenham, vindication for their ranking despite a so-so 11-8 record in the regular season.

“It was not an easy season, we saw some really strong competition, but I think that’s the best way to get ready for tournament,” Weston coach Win van Ogtrop said.

Trailing 5-1 early on, Ogtrop called timeout, a prelude for senior captain Maddy Schiller (8 goals) and junior Neta Leschle (7 goals, 2 assists) letting loose. Combined, the pair accounted for 15 of Weston’s goals, the final two coming from Schiller’s stick.

The Wildcats battled back to tie the game at 5-all and led, 11-10, at half, only to trail 13-11 before van Ogtrop utilized another timeout.

“We have some phenomenal leaders on our team that have really high lacrosse IQs,” van Ogtrop said. “They’re great leaders, made sure everyone contributed and played to their strengths.”

Junior Lily Kacvenski also had a goal and four assists for Weston. The Wildcats face the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinal between third-seeded Dover-Sherborn and No. 6 Sandwich. Weston defeated D-S in the regular season, 17-6, on May 22.

Boys’ tennis

Division 1 state

St. John’s Prep 3, Newton North 0 — With 34 seasons of experience and nearly 500 victories as St. John’s Prep’s tennis coach, Mark Metropolis knows all too well the difficulty of reaching the semifinals — even with exceptional regular season success year after year.

But with a jolt of youth in the lineup and one of Metropolis’s deepest teams in decades, the second-seeded Eagles (20-1) secured the program’s first state semifinal berth since 2011 by topping No. 10 Newton North (7-8) at home.

The match initially began Thursday, but was suspended due to rain. After resuming early Friday afternoon, the match was again met with inclement weather, causing the first and second singles matches to be postponed.

It took a couple of days, but the St. John's Prep boys' tennis team finally earned it state semifinalist trophy.Courtesy

However, the Eagles had already clinched the team victory with wins from freshman John DeAngelis at third singles (6-3, 6-1), senior Ben Liptak and sophomore Luke Prokopis at first doubles (6-0, 6-1), and junior Mark McDuffee and sophomore Luke Free (6-1, 6-0) at second doubles.

St. John’s Prep will face No. 3 Lexington (23-0) in the semifinals on Monday, looking to secure the program’s first state title since 2002 with a squad that reminds Metropolis of those golden years.

“It feels like we’re back to the solid players we used to have back in the early 2000s and the 1990s,” Metropolis said. “We’ve had some teams in between that have been good, but have just been missing something . . . it’s just been fun watching these kids grow into this.”

Metropolis felt the program’s final piece to reaching the state’s upper-echelon was the addition of DeAngelis, who improved to 14-1.

“When we picked up John DeAngeles, that’s when it kind of solidified that we had filled in all the holes,” Metropolis said. “I knew we had seven solid players, and seven kids who were all playing year-round.”

The Eagles’ doubles pairings have lost just one match combined this year, and in the team’s sole defeat — a 3-2 loss to the same Minutemen squad they will face in Monday’s semifinal — both doubles pairings secured wins.

The Eagles’ superior depth will again set the stage for a highly anticipated postseason rematch.

“[Lexington] could make a couple of changes and strengthen the doubles, but I don’t know what they are going to do,” Metropolis said. “But I think we’ve gotten better since then, too. It’s two solid teams, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Girls’ tennis

Division 4 State

Hamilton-Wenham 5, Bromfield 0 — The top-seeded Generals (20-1) advanced to their second straight semifinals with a sweep of No. 9 Bromfield at the Manchester Athletic Club. Sky Jara, Naomi Provost, and Chloe Gern didn’t drop a game in singles play. Abby Simon and Sienna Gregory won 6-4, 6-4 at No. 1 doubles and Alle Benchoff and Laynee Wilkins were 6-2, 7-5 winners at No. 2 doubles. H-W plays the winner of fourth-seeded St. John Paul II and No. 5 Lenox in the semifinals.

Globe correspondent Ryan Martin reported from Wellesley and Matty Wasserman, Jake Levin, and Julie Yohe also contributed.

Boston Globe Today: Sports | June 9, 2023
Watch today’s full episode of Boston Globe Today: Sports from June 9, 2023

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