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.
“It was huge when she hit it,” Higgins said of Iozzo’s three-run blast, “because the first inning I thought we were kind of tentative.”
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.
Woburn (19-4) pitcher Emily Arredondo settled in for three clean innings before the Newton North bats started producing again.
“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.
“I think a lot of times hitting is contagious and we definitely feed off each other’s energy.”
Bass and Kira Flegenheimer singled to start the fifth before Elizabeth Wu brought Bass home to extend the lead. In the sixth it was Emma MacLean and Holly Chin who came up with the big RBI’s. The final run was plated in the seventh when Clair Markert was brought home by a Elizabeth D’Agostino sacrifice fly.
“One through nine, we’re a good hitting team and we came through and played as a team today,” Baugher said. “I think [the extra runs] takes a little pressure off our pitcher and I think it just makes people relax a little more.
“Luckily we have everyone back except for one player so I have players who have been here before,” Baugher said. “We set ourselves up to be in this position and it’s just a matter of taking care of business.”
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.
“She’s been our starter for three years and these are the moments she looks forward to during the season.”
Senior Alison Foley and junior Emily Curtis scored four goals apiece for the Rebels.
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 North
Lynnfield 5, Austin Prep 0 — The Pioneers (19-1) won their fourth straight sectional title, blanking AP for the second time in a month. Singles wins went to Sarah Mezini at No. 1 (6-1, 6-0), Camie Foley at No. 2 ((6-1, 6-1), and Katie Nevils at No. 3 (6-0, 6-1). In doubles, Lynnfield’s No. 1 team of Katie Nugent and Alexa Vittiglio won the longest match of the day, 7-6, 7-6, and the No. 2 team of Allison Carey and Laura Mucci won 6-1, 6-3. The Cougars finished the year 18-4.
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.”
“I saw a lot of fast-break opportunities,” added Hammett, who has verbally committed to West Point.
“I read the wings and got the ball to Abdullah Nassif (4 goals) and Neil Calkin (three goals) and they put it in the back of the net for us.”
For much of the fourth quarter, led by Kyle McFetridge (four goals), the Skippers (17-7) dominated the play, cutting the deficit to one. But with 1:56 remaining, midfielder Connor Morris scored on a draw, assisted by attacker Timothy Mullane, giving the Indians an insurance goal.
“That was the dagger,” Zaylor said, “We feel like when we’re up by two goals, we can run the clock down comfortably.”
“We were still a little flat in the second half, so I called a timeout and they went out and executed with a quick run, which is what they’re capable of doing.”
The first half was defined by a series of runs. Newburyport took a 6-4 lead with a 3-0 spurt, Ipswich (18-2) countered with a 3-0 run, and the Clippers finished the frame strong with three unanswered goals to take a 9-7 lead into the break.
While Kearney sparked the second-half surge, the Clippers held Ipswich scoreless for 10 minutes to seize a 14-8 cushion. Senior captain Julia Glavin led Ipswich with six goals.
For Newburyport, freshman midfielder Maggie Pons tallied four goals with two assists and junior Hannah Schilling and senior Cescily Wheeler added three goals apiece.
“Our goal all along was to get to this game and prove that we’re the top team in the area,” said Batchelder. “It would’ve been nice to do it on our home field, but it’s great to get it done.”
Division 3 North
Ipswich 11, Hamilton-Wenham 7 — The Tigers secured their third straight sectional title, but in an electric atmosphere at Peabody High, the clincher was a much more difficult challenge than their 18-2 regular-season romp over their Cape Ann League rival.
Ipswich (18-2) will face D3 South champion Hanover (16-4) in the state semifinals next week.
“We feel comfortable here,” said Ipswich senior captain Kilian Morrissey of playing in the North final for the third straight year.
“We have two other [sectional championship] trophies. We’ve been here before, and now we want to go one step further and deliver a state title to Ipswich.”
Hamilton-Wenham (17-2) took a 4-3 lead late in the first half on a tally from senior captain Joe Lattanzi (four goals). But the Tigers responded with three goals over the final 47 seconds of the second quarter to snare the momentum heading into the second half.
After the Generals rallied to tie the game, 6-6, early in the third quarter, Ipswich responded with another strong finish, scoring four goals to close the third quarter with a 10-6 lead.
Along with Morrissey (two goals, two assists), fellow seniors Duke Kriksceonaitis (two goals), Charlie Gillis (two goals, assist) and Tommy Ginolfi (goal, two assists) provided stgandout play. Junior Pat Gillis, Charlie’s brother, had three goals.
“You’ve got seniors with experience that can play with each other and it adds up,” said Ipswich coach Glenn Foster.“At this time of year, you are what you are and it’s always interesting when you face a team like [Hamilton-Wenham] twice, because you know each other’s tendencies.”
“This is a testament to this senior class. I’ve seen a lot of classes come through in different sports and this group here came in as freshmen and jumped right in and to win [the sectional title] three times is a feather in their cap and something they’ll remember.”
Anthony Riccio, Hamilton-Wenham’s career scoring leader, scored two goals with an assist and goalie Mayo Amorello made 17 saves.
Division 2 South
Hingham 13, Bishop Feehan 6 — The Harbormen flew downfield to begin the second half of the sectional final, and a flurry of goals followed.
Up two goals to start the second half, the sixth-seeded Harbormen (21-3) used their speed to their advantage and piled on eight unanswered goals in the third quarter on their way to South crown at Marshfield High.
“It’s spacing,” said Hingham coach John Todd of his team’s third-quarter surge against Feehan (16-5).
“You don’t want to get caught in the trap. [Bishop Feehan] played a tough zone and we should’ve recognized that. If you don’t, it leads to stupid things.”
Senior attackman Jack Hennessy (four goals, five assists) had points on all but one goal in the third quarter, netting four goals and dishing out three assists in a 12-minute span.
“I was being a little passive in the first half when we saw the zone, but once we got a couple in to start the second half, we got it rolling and it was easy for us,” he said.
Junior midfielder Marshall Terres also scored four goals for Harbormen, who have held their last four foes to six goals or less.
Hingham will play the winner of Saturday’s North final between Wakefield and Beverly in a state semifinal.
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.