Fireworks, fans and Huskies exploded after Logan Levesque hit a clutch bases loaded double to score Elsa White and Sydney Crowell in the bottom of the seventh inning and give Mt. Hope a come from …
Fireworks, fans and Huskies exploded after Logan Levesque hit a clutch bases loaded double to score Elsa White and Sydney Crowell in the bottom of the seventh inning and give Mt. Hope a come from behind 6-5 semifinals walk-off victory over Toll Gate at the high school on Saturday afternoon. The Huskies who came back from a four run deficit will play for the championship at Rhode Island College on Sunday at noon. Mt. Hope, the loser’s bracket finalist will have to beat Prout twice to win the Division II title.
“It’s awesome that we won. It really feels good,” said Huskies ace Reily Amaral. “Two years in a row making it to RIC. It’s amazing.”
“Logan is that quiet, great player,” said Huskies head coach Craig Giarusso. “She’s not flashy, she’s not going to hit the long ball, but she’ll hit that double into the gap. She’ll get the base hit. Defensively she’s been playing great. I can’t say enough good things about her.”
“We never quit,” he said of the Huskies’ come back. “That was a great game. We went down four, battled back and ended up winning it in the seventh.”
Great pitching and defense
Mt. Hope ace Reily Amaral and Toll Gate pitcher Kathryn Motta were mired in a pitcher’s duel for the first three innings of the game. Amaral had an excellent fast ball and command of all of her pitches as she struck out nine, walked none and allowed seven hits and five runs in seven innings.
“It was a helluva game,” Amaral said. “We were playing so strong the whole time.”
Amaral has now pitched four games in six days and five in eight.
“I pitch a lot of games. I do it for my team, for my family and my friends. Seeing everyone come out and support you. You can’t do anything else but show up for them. My parents always make it to my games. It’s always nice having them there cheering me on no matter what. All of the parents they cheer and give me energy and I give it back.”
The Mt. Hope defense played superbly behind her. Left fielder Elsa White made a running catch at the base of the fence for the first out of the third inning. Center fielder Jayda Sylvia also made a pair of catches. One in the first inning and another in the third when she ran in and slid between Levesque, the right fielder and shortstop Julia Allen to make a a catch for the second out of the second inning. The Huskies made their best defensive play in the fifth inning. With Mt. Hope clinging to a 1-0 lead, Amaral hit Amanda Preston to give the Titans their second baserunner of the game. Delaney Wilson smashed a double to the left centerfield gap. Preston running from first base rounded third and headed for home. Huskies centerfielder played the ball and threw a strike to third baseman Sydney Crowell who caught the ball spun and thew a strike to catcher Grace Stephenson and she tagged out Preston to preserve the lead.
“That play was all reaction,” said Coach Giarusso. “Sydney stayed under control. It’s stuff that we’ve been working on all year. She has been playing great at third all year and it showed today.”
“Sydney is a really big part of our team,” Amaral said. “Having her playing makes a great difference.”
Huskies take a slim lead
Mt. Hope took a slim lead in the bottom of the fourth inning and for a while it looked like it might hold up. Sylvia smashed a lead off double into the left field gap that caromed into the fence. She took third when left fielder Kylie Whitney threw the ball by shortstop Julia Maker and into the infield.
Amaral the Huskies five hitter hit an RBI single up the middle to score Sylvia easily for a 1-0 lead. Levesque squared to bunt and popped it right to third baseman Amanda Preston who caught it and threw to first to double up Kylie Rolando running for Amaral, to end the inning.
Titans strike for five runs
Amaral working on a shutout was brilliant threw five innings, but Toll Gate figured her out briefly as they broke out for five runs in the top of the sixth. Titans nine hitter Honor Meunier led off and smashed a grounder to the right of the second base bag. Huskies second baseman Alice Grantham dove for the ball, but it ricocheted off her glove into center field. Motta lined a hit by Grantham on the first base side and Meunier took off for third. Levesque came in to play the ball, saw that Meunier had tripped rounding second base and threw her out at third for the first out of the inning. Sydnee Perreault bashed an Amaral pitch into the left centerfield gap and Maker the Titans three hitter loaded the bases with a single to left field for Titans clean up hitter Julia Krause who crushed an Amaral 1-0 pitch over the left centerfield fence for a grand slam and a 4-1 Toll Gate lead.
Eliana Goldman doubled to give the Titans another baserunner. Amaral bore down and struck out Preston for the second out of the inning, but Delaney Wilson singled up the middle to score Goldman and give Toll Gate a 5-1 lead. Amaral struck out Whitney to finally end the inning.
“Toll Gate made some great adjustments,” Coach Giarusso said. “They got to our pitch scheme. We had to actually break away from what we were going to do. They are a great team and they battled back and took a four run lead. I take my hat off to them.”
Two innings to make up four runs
Mt. Hope only having two at bats left, wasted no time and clawed back for two runs in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Stephenson the Huskies clean up hitter, walloped a Julia Krause 2-1 pitch over the left field fence for a home run to cut the lead to 5-2.
“Grace is a great hitter and a great softball player. I’m honored that I’ve had four years with her,” Coach Giarusso said.
Amaral followed with a double to the right centerfield gap. Rolando came out to run for her and she scored when Levesque pounded a double to the left field wall to make it 5-3.
“That was the furthest that I hit the ball all year,” said Levesque.
Sammy Malafronte who singled the inning before, popped out to first base and Alice Grantham flew out to center field to end the inning.
“Reily just doesn’t quit,” Coach Giarusso said. “She pitches better when her back is against the wall. And she showed it again today. Once they took that lead, she shut them down.”
Amaral and the defense extinguished the Titans in order in the top of the seventh enabling the mighty Huskies machine to get back to work.
Bottom of the seventh
Nine hitter Julia Allen hit a Krause pitch to second baseman Meunier who bobbled it long enough for Allen to reach first base. Cheers came from the Mt. Hope bench and the crowd as left handed lead off hitter Elsa White stepped to the plate. She laced a double into the left field gap. Coach Giarusso stopped her at third base to give Mt. Hope runners at second and third. Krause hit Crowell with a pitch to load the bases for Sylvia who flew out to second base for the first out. Toll Gate coach Shana Willis had seen enough with Stephenson due up and replaced Krause with Wilson, who pitched well against the Huskies on Monday. She threw her first pitch by the catcher and Allen came home to score on the passed ball trimming the lead to 5-4.
Coach Willis visited the mound again and put Motta who pitched the first three innings back in. She intentionally walked Stephenson to face Amaral, the Huskies five hitter. Motta got Amaral to swing early on a change up and she hit a pop fly to second base for the second out of the inning.
Toll Gate was one out away from winning the game. Levesque had other ideas as she stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs.
“I was literally shaking,” Levesque said of the at bat. “That was scary.”
“I knew she had it,” said Amaral of her teammate. “She’s so strong mentally, I was so proud of her.”
The Huskies senior readied and hit a screaming line drive off the third base bag. Fair ball yelled one of the three umpires as the ball caromed off the bag and zipped into foul territory. White scored easily as the third baseman scrambled after the ball. Crowell coming from second base rounded third and got the green light from Coach Giarusso and started for home. The throw from foul territory was late as Crowell crossed the plate safely with the winning run. The Huskies erupted onto the field, the Mt. Hope crowd cheered and fireworks that had mysteriously been lit, boomed in the background. The Huskies softball team were heading to RIC to play in the championship.
“Prout at noon,” said Coach Giarusso. “Let’s go."