WORCESTER – Serena Gilbride earned her first varsity win at Austin Prep 14 months ago.
Saturday afternoon, the senior pitched the Cougars to their first state title in a 3-0 victory over perennial power Turners Falls in the MIAA Division 3 final at Worcester State.
The East Boston resident was in line behind Logan MacDonald, the Globe’s three-time D3 Player of the Year who pitched AP to state finals in 2016 and 2017. Gilbride, who first made the varsity last season as a junior, watched from the bench.
“I just remember being on the sidelines and always wanting to be out there, helping the team as much as I could,” Gilbride said. “I finally got to step on that field as an athlete, as a player. It was surreal.”
Gilbride shut out Turners Falls (22-4), which was making its third straight appearance in the championship game, with wins over Austin Prep in 2016-17 before losing to Abington last year. In 84 pitches, the East Boston resident scattered seven hits, striking out one and walking none for Prep (24-2).
“She hits her spots,” said Austin Prep coach Frank Sorrenti. “She doesn’t walk anybody. She has a lot of spin. She’s very accurate and she keeps the hitters off balance, which to me, is what it’s all about.”
Junior Frankie Frelick, who previously caught MacDonald, helped Gilbride make the transition to s starter this year.
“I’m so proud of her,” Frelick said. “She came in this year ready to go, ready to fill some big shoes. She definitely did her job and I’m so proud to be her catcher.”
After taking the circle to start the state title game for the first time, Gilbride would leave – for the final time in a Cougars uniform – as a state champion.
“I know that I’ll be a part of a legacy at Austin Prep forever now,” Gilbride said. “It’s such a good feeling. I had some really big shoes to fill this season from Logan and past players in general, but I feel like I did a pretty good job of that. I was ready to step up to the plate and get it done for Austin.”
Jenna Ciccotelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.