WORCESTER — The Hudson girls’ softball team features six freshmen and three eighth graders on the roster.
But the Hawks have followed the lead of senior ace Sophia Togneri all season.
In Saturday’s Division 2 final, Togeneri limited North champion Gloucester to four hits while striking out eight as Hudson claimed its first state championship since 2010 with a 4-1 victory at Worcester State University.
“She’s been outstanding,” said Hudson coach Laura Bowen, who won a state title in 2007 as a player at Hudson. “You can’t really ask for much better as a pitcher. She had that desire to win and she’s been a tremendous leader.”
Playing as the road team for the first time all postseason, the Hawks (22-3) took advantage of an early scoring opportunity. When senior Emily White reached on a one-out bunt single in the first, Togneri answered the call by ripping a double to deep left for the 1-0 lead.
“We took it as although we’re the away team it gives us an opportunity to jump on them first,” said Togneri, who allowed just two runs in the postseason. “I like pitching with the lead and it made it a lot more free for our defense as well.”
In the circle, Togneri kept Gloucester hitters off-balance with a strong fastball. She finished with 88 pitches over seven innings. In five postseason games, she fanned 65 batters.
“We just couldn’t get anything going early,” said Gloucester coach John Nicastro. “We ran into a great pitcher who was hitting her spots. We started to put the barrel on the ball as the innings went on, but we didn’t do enough.”
Hudson added to its lead in the third when freshman Abby Nezuch ripped a two-out, two-run single to center. Nezuch added a third RBI in the fifth on a two-out double to deep left.
“I was really nervous at first,” said Nezuch. “But then Emily White on second was helping see where the pitches were going and was able to adapt to that place.”
The Fishermen (21-4) finally got on the board in the seventh with a RBI single by Jenna Hoofnagle. Gloucester’s best prior chance was an inning earlier, but Hudson freshman catcher Caitlin Cassidy caught Racheal Rallo stealing third to end the threat.
“They were so loose today,” said Bowen. “I don’t even think they realized how big this really is for them and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Dan Shulman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.