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A jubilant Julia Malowitz and her riseball lifted Central Catholic softball into its first state semifinal in a decade

Starter Julia Malowitz (12) wore her enthusiasm on her sleeve as she pitched Central Catholic past her hometown of Methuen and into the state semifinals.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Each time Central Catholic ace Julia Malowitz struck out a hitter, the junior lit up from ear to ear, leaping to the top of the circle and pumping her arms.

Malowitz struck out 10 and scattered two hits in five innings, in addition to providing a pair of hits, RBIs, and runs scored in a 10-0 victory for Central Catholic over No. 9 Methuen at Lawrence’s Kennedy Park in a Division 1 quarterfinal. The top-seeded Raiders (22-1) will meet the winner of No. 13 North Andover and No. 5 Peabody in the semifinals (TBA). It’s Central Catholic’s first trip to the state semifinals in 10 years.


Malowitz, a Methuen resident, pounded the outside part of the plate and incorporated an effective riseball.

“Obviously, Methuen gives me a little extra fuel and knowing that we could get to the final four, I just wanted to compete today,” said Malowitz.

Central Catholic's Caitlin Milner (from left), Elizabeth Kearne, and Zaynah Wotkowicz celebrate the final out of their quarterfinal win.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe/Josh Reynolds for The Boston Glo

Sophomore Olivia Moeckel, sophomore Ava Perrotta, and junior Katie Fox each scored twice and plated a pair of runs. A two-run double by Fox extended the lead to 4-0 in the first inning .

“Julia is fantastic and she’s one of the grittiest kids that I’ve ever coached,” said Central Catholic coach Stacy Ciccolo. “What I think I like the most about my team is there are several people who can chip in at different times. What I really liked about today is, we just kept going to work. We’d get some people on, get them over, and get them in. There was nothing super flashy about what we did, no one hit one over the fence, but we consistently put the bat on the ball and made some good things happen.”

Julia Malowitz proudly displayed Central Catholic's Final Four trophy from the MIAA.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Taunton 12, Woburn 0 — For two innings, Taunton was held in check offensively.

Senior Mia Fernandes changed that withone swing.


On the first pitch she saw, Fernandes clobbered a solo home run over the centerfield fence, kick-starting a five-run third inning for third-seeded Taunton against No. 11 Woburn in the quarterfinals at Jack Tripp field. The Tigers (22-1) play the winner of second-seeded King Philip and No. 7 Bishop Feehan on Wednesday (5 p.m.) at UMass Dartmouth in the semifinals.

“I was really looking to lay off the high one, because that’s not the pitch [to hit], but that first one, I just knew,” Fernandes said.

Fernandes’ home run elevated the spirits on the Tigers’ bench as the team mobbed home plate in celebration, throwing a Tiger home run chain around her neck.

“For Mia Fernandes to come out here and hit a home run to get our bats going, that meant the world to us,” said Taunton coach Michelle Raposo.

The two-time defending state champion Taunton softball team is returning to the state semifinals following a dominant win over Woburn.Cam Kerry

The solo shot was the first of the three round-trippers for the Tigers. Eighth grader Bella Bourque crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning after Brooke Aldrich broke the game open with a grand slam deposited well over the left-field fence in the fifth.

“Anything in the strike zone, I knew that I was going to attack with bases loaded,” said Aldrich. “It felt so good, relieving to put some extra insurance [on the board].”

The bats came alive to take pressure off junior Sam Lincoln, who struck out 10 and only surrendered two hits in six innings. Lincoln, a Texas Tech commit, used her curveball effectively on both sides of the plate. Lincoln settled in during the middle innings, fanning six batters in a row.


Division 2 State

Somerset Berkley 5, Billerica 2 — After a rain delay of more than two hours, the seventh-seeded Raiders (17-6) stunned No. 2 Billerica (20-3), scoring four runs with two outs in the top of the 11th inning. Makenzie Jacob had a two-run double and Emma Javier and Bella Nugent knocked in runs.

Somerset Berkley will face the winner of third-seeded Tewksbury and No. 11 Bedford in the semifinals.

Division 3 State

Bishop Fenwick 2, St. Mary’s 0 — Entering the ninth inning, Bishop Fenwick sophomore Katie O’Brien had grounded out twice in three at-bats. As she stepped to the plate for the fourth time, with senior Mia Mercurio on third and junior Gigi Aupont on second, she focused on timing her swing.

O’Brien did just that, sending a shot to center field that scored Mercurio and Aupont and gave the ninth-seeded Crusaders a 2-0 lead that would stand as the difference in a quarterfinals matchup with top-seeded St. Mary’s (21-2).

The victory was hard earned after the Crusaders lost twice to their Catholic Central rivals this season. It was also emotional.

In April, freshman Emily Shann, the team’s starting second baseman, died after an injury sustained in her home.

“It’s been an up-and-down, rollercoaster of a season,” said coach Brian Seabury. “I think we’ve started to enjoy the game again.”

The team hangs a T-shirt with Shann’s name and number on the fence for every game. “The whole season, it was tough getting into the zone, so I just thought, ‘Today is about [Emily],’ " O’Brien said. “I was playing her position, so it was really all about her.”


Bishop Fenwick, which will be playing in its first state semifinal since 2004, will next travel to face fourth-seeded Norton (21-2).

St. Mary’s senior ace Anna Fringuelli struck out six, while Aupont fanned eight in her second straight shutout. The Crusaders, who won their 10th in a row, didn’t commit an error until the final frame.

Norton 5, Apponequet 2 — The fourth-seeded Lancers (21-2) finished their quarterfinal victory after play was halted by rain Friday night in the top of the fifth inning, with the hosts leading 5-1 and the Lakers threatening with the bases loaded and no outs.

The Lancers’ Sandy Fairbairn scored twice and Sienna Pietrasiewicz recorded three RBIs.

Norton will face ninth-seeded Bishop Fenwick (15-7) in the semifinals.

Division 4 State

Clinton 2, Nipmuc 1 — Senior Ella Repole finished her three-hitter with her sixth strikeout as the third-seeded Gaels (21-1) held off No. 11 Nipmuc (15-8) in the quarterfinals. Clinton plated two runs in the third on a line single to left by Kaela Ciarletta and an RBI single from Leo Repole. Nipmuc scored in the sixth.

Globe correspondent Julia Yohe contributed to this report.

Cam Kerry can be reached at