One year ago, as the top seed, the Norton softball team fell in the Division 2 South sectional semifinal to Abington.
In a rematch of the top two seeds in Division 2, played out on the very same field at Taunton High, it was Norton which eliminated top-seeded Abington to capture the Division 2 South title with a 2-0 victory on Friday night.
The Lancers (25-1) advance to the state semifinals Tuesday at Endicott College and will face the winner of Sunday’s Division 2 North final between Swampscott and Dracut.
This year’s matchup pitted the hard-hitting bats of Abington (25-1) against the powerful pitching of Norton.
In the end, pitching had the upper hand as junior Kelly Nelson continued her dominance in the circle with 13 strikeouts in a complete-game shutout, her 19th of the season.
“It was definitely a lot of motivation,” said Nelson, who also went 2 for 3 at the plate. “They know my weaknesses from last year and it was just huge motivation for everyone. No one wants to go home.”
Abington’s mighty offense managed just four hits off Nelson, who recorded eight no-hitters this season, but stranded seven base runners. Nelson had 33 strikeouts in her last 14 innings pitched combined to lead Norton to the sectional crown.
“I thought last year she was phenomenal and then she comes out this year and her numbers are unbelievable,” said Norton coach Wade Lizotte. “She just continues to work hard and get better and better each year.”
Norton broke a scoreless stalemate in the top of the fourth inning. Nicole Granger poked an RBI single up the middle to drive home Stephanie Nosky, who reached on a leadoff single.
In the sixth, the Lancers added an insurance run on Leah Buttner’s run-scoring double.
Division 1 North
Billerica 9, Medford 2 — The Indians e rupted for four combined runs in the first two innings of Friday’s semifinal against the Mustangs in Lynn to earn a berth in the sectional final opposite Newton North Sunday at Endicott College.
“We haven’t been in this situation in a long time as a program, so the kids were really lose coming in.” said Billerica coach Patty Higgins. “They felt good about it.”
Billerica (15-8) got on the board first when Kate Condon doubled and pinch runner Lindsay Mitchell scored on a Medford error. But the Indians really took control of the game in the second with a three-run home run from Katherine Iozzo, for a 4-0 lead.
Division 1 North
Newton North 5, Woburn 0 — Maddie Schaefer struck out 13 batters and threw a five-hit, complete-game shutout to help the Tigers (20-3) advance to the sectional final for the second straight year where Newton North will face Billerica.
The Tigers overcame a sluggish start to score four of their five runs in the final three innings, with Emma Arpino’s RBI double scoring Caroline Bass and serving as a spark.
“I think it was just a matter of us needing to come around on the ball,” Newton North coach Lauren Baugher said of the slow start.
Division 3 South
Greater New Bedford 3, Diman 0 — Kayla DeMedeiros tossed her fifth shutout of the season, fanning nine, and Sarah Duarte recorded her 50th hit of the season as the Bears (20-5) advanced to Saturday’s sectional final against second-seeded West Bridgewater (21-2) in Taunton. Duarte doubled in the first — extending her hitting streak to 32 games dating back to last season — and scored on a fielder’s choice. She knocked the GNB’s second run in third inning and later scored on a single by Payton Conceicao.
“We’ve been in this position before, so we’re kind of seasoned to it,” said Greater New Bedford Mark Collins, whose team is seeking to repeat as South champions.
Diman (14-7) had the tying run at the plate in the sixth, but the rally ended with a flyout.
Division 2 East
Walpole 12, Foxborough 10 — With the Rebels protecting a two-goal lead with 1:20 remaining, senior goalie Morgan Fontana denied a scoring bid by Foxborough’s Catherine Luciano (three goals) from inside the attack circle, deflecting the shot with her stick to clinch the program’s second straight sectional title at Milford High.
Walpole (21-2) will play the winner of Saturday’s Central/West final between Groton-Dunstable and Bromfield in a state semifinal at Babson College (TBA).
“There’s no one else I would have as goalie for me,” said Walpole coach Mike Tosone of Fontana, who finished with nine saves.
Division 2 North
Newburyport 15, Ipswich 11 — Junior Molly Rose Kearney netted three of her four goals during a 5-0 run in the second half as the Clippers (20-0) continued their prefect season with a victory in the Division 2 North final at Peabody High.
Newburyport will await the winner of Saturday’s South final between Cohasset and two-time defending state champion Norwell.
“We started the game really shaky and trying to do things individually rather than working together, which has been the secret to our success all year,” said Newburyport coach Catherine Batchelder.
Division 3 South
Hanover 11, Cohasset 9 —
Hanover, as a result, will play the Ipswich/Hamilton-Wenham winner in the state semifinals.
“All those goals started with Hammett on the faceoff,” Hanover coach Paul Zaylor said. “If I had to give out a game ball, it would go to him.”Brandan Blom reported from Lynn, Tom Joyce from Marshfield, Brian Mozey from Milford, and Nate Weitzer from Peabody. To report scores, call 617-929-2860/3235.