Acton-Boxborough softball hitting on all cylinders
Lauren Meinhold made the switch from baseball to softball at age 10. Her reasoning was simple.
“I was thinking that I would be more with my friends,” said the Acton-Boxborough junior ace with a laugh.
Seven years later, Meinhold and her friends are on the verge of something special.
The fourth-ranked Colonials (13-1) are outscoring foes, 165-28, and are headed to their third straight Division 1 North tourney. With a 5-1 nonleague win Tuesday over Nashoba Regional, the Colonials have won 12 straight games.
That’s quite a leap from Claire Langin’s freshman season, the spring of 2016, when A-B finished 6-12, the program’s fourth straight season failing to qualify for the tourney.
“If certain people didn’t have a good game, we would lose,” Langin recalled. “Now, it’s like we could have three or four batters in our lineup that could not do well, and we still win games. It’s just incredible to me to see.”
Six of the nine hitters in the Colonials’ starting lineup are batting .400 or above this season.
“These kids can hit like no one I’ve ever seen before,” said coach Mary Bassett. “It’s really impressive to watch. They’re very dedicated to their craft and they’re always looking to get better every day.”
Meinhold and classmate Sarah Keagy each collected their 100th career hit this season.
“It was very exciting,” said Keagy, a .558 hitter this season whose two-run single in last Wednesday’s 11-4 win over Cambridge was No. 100.
“I don’t keep track of stats that much, so I didn’t know when it was coming. I’m very honored to have gotten it my junior year.”
Meinhold (.592) recorded her 100th May 8 in an 8-3 win over Weston.
Meinhold is also a dominating force in the circle. In 72⅔ innings this season, she has struck out 86 with seven walks and a 1.37 ERA. Meinhold threw her first no-hitter in style — a perfect game against Waltham May 10.
“I’ve always wanted to be a person that could pitch and hit, because pitchers don’t generally hit at a higher level,” said Meinhold, who focuses on her drop ball and changeup and is developing her rise ball. “I’ve always wanted to prove them wrong, and I think that’s just one step into doing that.”
Meinhold and Keagy are not alone in carrying the team as the Colonials get production throughout their lineup, including sophomore Olivia Comolli (30 RBIs) and senior Julie Macmillan (25 RBIs), , and defense to match.
“You’re never holding your breath waiting for what’s going to happen,” Keagy said. “You just know that it’s going to work out. We’re not going to have a lot of errors in the field and we’re also going to string the hits together.”
Eight of the starters are returnees, and that experience has the Colonials poised to make a deep postseason run.
“We’ve been playing together since we were really little,” Meinhold said. “We’ve obviously all grown into different people and our personalities are different, but during the spring, we always come back together. The confidence that comes with being with such good people, it really shows through when we play.”
For Langin, entering her third postseason, the chance to keep the trajectory of A-B softball moving upward is one she is ready to take on.
“Coming from freshman year and losing a lot, then my sophomore year losing and winning, then making it a little bit, and then each year just getting a bit closer and closer, it just means so much to me,” Langin said.
And for Meinhold, it’s an opportunity to give back to those friends, the ones who encouraged her to play the sport and welcomed her with open arms when she did.
“[The seniors] taught me everything I know,” Meinhold said. “I want to be one of the main reasons why we go so far because this is their last year. They won’t have another opportunity like this.”
■ Concord-Carlisle will honor the memory of Lieutenant Maureen Wesinger-Lewis with a fund-raiser game Friday against Reading. Wesinger-Lewis, a graduate of C-C, was the first female commander of the Massachusetts State Police Mounted Unit. She died last June after a battle with throat cancer.
Her daughter, Caitlyn, is a senior captain on this year’s Patriots team.
Money raised will be put toward a scholarship given to a Concord-Carlisle graduate who is striving for a career in public service.
“It’s important to build awareness and certainly to recognize someone who gave so much to the community,” said C-C coach Lisa McGloin.
■ North Attleborough coach Bill Wallace earned his 250th win in spectacular fashion: a perfect game by junior Bella Erti that clinched the program’s first league title since 1990.
■ Wayland was set to host its final senior night before the start of major renovations to its athletic facilities, but steady rain submerged much of the field. Dual County League rival Weston, however, was already en route, so the teams decided to play a friendly game of kickball.
Allison Leacu, the lone Wayland senior, made the traditional final lap around the bases as all Warriors players do on senior night, finishing with a slide into the puddle covering home plate.
“We see college teams have dance-offs during rain delays, so we figured, ‘Why not have some fun?’ ” said Wayland coach Erin Ryan. “It was the last game ever played on the varsity field, its last hoorah.”
Games to watch
■ Friday, No. 16 Amesbury at Methuen (7 p.m.) — The Indians will put their one-loss resume on the line on the road against a tough Ranger squad.
■ Friday, No. 3 Bridgewater-Raynham at No. 18 Franklin (7 p.m.) — The Trojans are one of the favorites in Division 1 South, but Franklin provides a strong late-season test.
■ Saturday, Marshfield at Hanover (11 a.m.) — Two teams on the bubble meet in a nonleague game that could help shape tournament seeding.
■ Tuesday, No. 11 Greater New Bedford at Dighton-Rehoboth (3:45 p.m.) — The South Coast Conference title will be up for grabs as GNB visits the surging Falcons under first-year coach Gary Warren.
■ Tuesday, No. 12 North Reading at No. 13 Triton (3:45 p.m.) — The Cape Ann Kinney Division title will be decided in a rematch of an earlier contest won by North Reading, 10-7.