NORTON — With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning of Thursday’s nonleague girls’ softball showdown against Abington, Alexandra Frontino legged out an infield single, scoring a run to hand Norton a 5-2 lead.
Norton coach Wade Lizotte called the play by his senior shortstop, part of a five-run frame, the turning point in his team’s 9-2 victory.
“That play to me was really the game-changer,” Lizotte said.
“If [Frontino] doesn’t run that out, we don’t get those other runs. Against a team like Abington, if you only have a one or two-run lead going into the seventh, you are never comfortable. But with a 9-2 score, you feel a little more confident.”
There were a number of turning points, the first occurring before the first pitch was thrown.
Fifth-ranked Abington (17-2), which had dealt No. 3 Norton (16-1) its only loss of the season, 5-4 on April 23, was late arriving because of transportation issues with its bus.
“I think we tried not to let it affect us,” said Abington coach Kelsea Cheney. “It’s tough to come in when you’re not getting any swings.”
Although late in arriving, the Green Wave went to work early against Norton ace Kelly Nelson, the state’s career leader in strikeouts (1,229). Lauren Keleher recorded hits in her first two at-bats, and scored in the first and third innings for a 2-0 lead.
However, Nelson settled in, allowing only two Abington hitters to reach base over the final four innings. In a 94-pitch outing, she struck out four while allowing four hits.
“I was little nervous going in as I am for most games,” Nelson said. “Definitely the insurance runs helped ease the nerves. I figured out my snap point and everything else just fell into place.”
Norton tied the game in the third on a two-run triple to right by Olivia Pietersen (3 for 4, 3 runs, 3 RBIs) in the third. On the next play, a fielder’s choice back to the mound, she scored after the Abington catcher was called for obstruction. Then Pietersen homered in the fifth.
“I definitely think [the obstruction] swayed the enthusiasm that we had,” Cheney said.
“It was a tough call. I think it brought us down a little bit but you’ve got to pick yourself up in different ways which we didn’t do.”