Fifteen minutes before Tuesday’s Division 2 state semifinal against North Reading, Greater New Bedford coach Mark Collins was forced to hand the ball to freshman Madison Camara.
Sophomore Jenna Sylvia, who had pitched all 33 postseason innings for the Bears, yielding four total runs, was out with an arm injury. Fellow sophomore pitcher Skylar Duboois was also sidelined.
Camara simply went out and pitched Greater New Bedford into Saturday’s state final, earning her third varsity win in a 6-4 victory at Taunton High.
The Bears (21-4) will face Central champ Leicester for the Division 2 state title Saturday at Worcester State.
“I was nervous, I was freaking out a little bit,” said Camara, who racked up 10 wins on the freshman team before a late-season call-up to the varsity. “My girls told me to calm down and that they had my back. [Sylvia] told me, ‘I’m proud of you, you got this.’ ”
Collins said “nothing that she gained during the season could prepare her for what she just went into. Just being a freshman and young and not aware of the severity of the game, it was a good thing for her today.”
GNB raced to a 4-0 lead after two innings, plating a run in the first on a wild pitch before adding three unearned runs in the third, two scoring on a dropped fly ball and a third on a single from Averi Soares.
“They came off the bus wanting to hit,” said Collins. “We kept putting on a run here, run there, kept the pressure on [North Reading].”
The Hornets (23-1) cut the lead to two in the sixth on RBI hits from Giuliana Peppe and Christina Simblaris.
Division 1 semifinal
Taunton 6, Newton North 1 — When the dust settled, Jaime Brown lifted her head off the third base bag in disbelief.
Her bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the second inning gave Taunton a five-run lead, which was soon six as the relay throw sailed past the Newton North third baseman, allowing Brown to strut home.
The hit helped propel Taunton (25-2) to the semifinal win at Martin Field in Lowell and into Saturday’s state final against Wachusett at Worcester State.
“Honestly, I was just going for a base hit and getting a run in, but getting them all in was a bonus,” said Brown. “It really broke open the game and gave the team some breathing room.”
Freshman pitcher Kelsey White protected Taunton’s comfortable lead, shutting down Newton North (19-5) all seven innings.
White retired the first 12 batters before surrendering her first hit of the game in the fifth inning.
“I felt comfortable getting 12 up and then 12 down,” said White, who struck out three. “My drop was working really good and so was my curve.”
Division 3 semifinal
Abington 9, Austin Prep 0 — Austin Prep entered Tuesday’s state semifinal on Lowell as winners of all 24 of its games, while averaging 11 runs per game in MIAA tournament. But senior Tori Young shut down the Cougars on just one hit as the Green Wave (24-2) waltzed into Saturday’s final against defending Division 3 champion Turners Falls with a 9-0 victory.
“[Young] pitched lights out today,” Abington coach Kelsea Cheney said. “She was moving the ball very well and she was just confident in the circle and we have confidence in her. She was throwing hard, she was moving the ball, and she fields her position really well.”
Abington got jumped ahead, 2-0, in the first on a RBI single by Jordyn Needle. The Green Wave added a run in the fourth before putting five on the board in the sixth.
“We like better pitching, we like faster girls and she was fast,” Cheney said of her team’s success against Austin Prep ace Logan MacDonald. “She gave us some speed and we like that. Most of our girls have quick hands so it was nice to have that speed going against her.”
Lauren Keleher led off the sixth with a triple and scored on a base hit from Lily O’Neil. Needle, Young, and Lauren Nelligan addeed RBI hits.
“We just talked about getting another run [in the sixth],” Cheney added. “We ended up pushing all of those runs across, so that was really nice to have.”Brandan Blom and Mike Kotsopoulos reported from Lowell.