Grafton strikes first, rolls to Division 2 softball title
WORCESTER — Any momentum the Dracut girls’ softball team had gained following Wednesday’s marathon 13-inning state semifinal victory over Norton vanished in the first inning of the Division 2 state final on Saturday.
Grafton plated four runs against Dracut sophomore Ryley White in the first inning en route to a 10-1 victory over the Middies at Worcester State, capturing the program’s third state title, and first since 2013.
Five of the first seven Grafton hitters reached base on batted balls, but only one reached the outfield. Two errors and three stolen bases fueled the four-run first.
“We were so sky-high after Norton and today we just came out flat,” said Dracut coach George Roy.
“We just came out nervous and I give credit to [Grafton]. They came out and played the little game. We just couldn’t make a play in the first inning.”
Said Grafton coach John Gemme, “we put the ball in play, they made some mistakes, and we took advantage of it.”
Junior Savannah Small pitched a complete game, shutting out Dracut (21-5) in the final six innings.
“[Small] got stronger and stronger as the game went on, and she usually does,” Gemme said.
Of the 21 outs recorded, only five came via a strikeout.
Second baseman Sarah Remillard, third baseman Bella Thornton and shortstop Jessica Hamilton each handled multiple hard groundballs and line drives cleanly.
“We played our best game of the year today,” said Gemme, whose squad finished 20-5.
“[Remillard] made some great plays, [Hamilton] made some great plays. [Thornton] is just a freshman but she covers a lot of ground.”
Dracut was playing in the state final for the first time since it won the title in 1998.
“I’m so proud of them,” Roy said. “They had an unbelievable season. We just came up one game short . . . we have a good nucleus coming back next year, so hopefully we can make another run.”