The Mt. Hope softball suffered a heart breaking 3-2 walk off loss in the tenth inning to Prout in the Division II championship at Rhode Island College on Sunday afternoon. Huskies ace Reily Amaral …
The Mt. Hope softball suffered a heart breaking 3-2 walk off loss in the tenth inning to Prout in the Division II championship at Rhode Island College on Sunday afternoon. Huskies ace Reily Amaral pitched brilliantly, striking out 12 while yielding just three hits one walk and three runs in 9 2/3 innings. Just one run was earned as Prout scored two runs in bottom of the tenth, the last on an error to give them the title.
“Reily has had many great games this year,” said Mt. Hope head coach Craig Giarusso. “She’s thrown two no-hitters. But pitch wise, movement wise, this was probably her best game this season.”
Catcher Grace Stephenson agreed. “Reily did a great job on the mound. She works hard when she’s under pressure and our offense wasn’t going today so we had to make it up on pitching and defense.”
Mt. Hope played six games over ten days
Mt. Hope started their playoff journey beating Narragansett 5-2 on June 3, after earning a first round bye. They lost to Toll Gate 11-7 on June 6 and were thrust into the loser’s bracket where they wound up having to fight their way through three straight games on June 7, 8, and 11. The Huskies pounded Narragansett 13-3, shutout East Greenwich 6-0 and came back from a four run deficit to finish off Toll Gate 6-5 in the seventh inning for a chance to play for the championship.
“This team is very special,” Stephenson said. “We’ve had a great season. We always keep each other up on the bench, in the field and up at bat. We’re always having a great time. It’s been so much fun. I’m going to miss this team next year and the coaching staff. It was amazing.”
“We’ve played great,” said Coach Giarusso. “We played very well as a team. I’m very pleased with the way we played (in the championship), and with the year that we’ve had.”
The Huskies strike first
The game against Prout took on a mantra similar to Rocky vs Apollo Creed. Mt. Hope went the distance and then some against the Crusaders. The Huskies broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning when Prout pitcher Meghan Mancini walked clean up hitter Grace Stephenson to lead off the inning. She took second base on Amaral’s single to center field and scored on Sammy Malafronte’s one out RBI single up the middle to give Mt. Hope a 1-0 lead. The inning looked promising as both runners moved up when the throw came to the plate to give the Huskies runners on second and third. But Alice Grantham struck out and Julian Allen grounded out to third base to end the inning.
While Amaral and the defense were shutting down the Crusaders, The Huskies offense was spinning its wheels and leaving runners on base against Prout pitcher Meghan Mancini. Mt. Hope left Jayda Sylvia on third base after she hit a two out triple in the first. Grantham walked to lead off the third inning. Elsa White reached via an error and the Huskies had runners on second and third with one out, but Mancini got Sydney Crowell and Sylvia to pop out to end the inning. The Huskies had baserunners in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings too, but failed to push across a run.
Prout ties the game
Prout tied the game when centerfielder Mead D’lorio reached on an error to lead off the fifth inning and ran to second base on a throwing error. She moved to third on a groundout and scored on a double by Alivia Ring to even the score 1-1. Amaral was visibly fuming after the hit and the ace struck out Emily Jacques and Mancini to end the inning.
Great pitching and defense, Stephenson drives in the go ahead run
Amaral and the Huskies defense set the Crusaders down in order in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning giving the offense a chance to win the game. Mt. Hope finally took advantage and scored in the top of the tenth when they were given a base runner at second base to start the inning. Crowell started on second and moved to third base on Sylvia’s ground out to first. Stephenson (2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI) smashed a hit to right field to score Crowell and give Mt. Hope a 2-1 lead. Stephenson stole second base when shortstop Abby Smith bobbled the throw. But Jacques who relieved Mancini in the ninth inning, struck out Amaral and Levesque to end the inning.
“Grace is just Grace,” Coach Giarusso said. “I can’t say enough about her. Losing her, Logan Jayda and Alice next year is really going to hurt.”
“Their pitchers were amazing,” said Stephenson. They are a helluva team. Congratulations to them.”
Bottom of the tenth
Prout had Molly Green start on second base in the bottom of the tenth. Amaral got D’lorio to ground out and struck out Jett Cronin giving the Crusaders two outs and with Green on third base for Ring (2 for 4 with 2 RBI). She crushed a base hit up the middle and plated Green to tie the score 2-2. Amaral walked Jacques giving Prout runners on first and second with two outs for Mancini.
Amaral got her to hit a dribbler to Crowell at third base. She scooped up the grounder, spun around and tossed a throw to Allen covering third base. The ball caromed off her glove and rolled into foul territory. Ring took off for home and scored easily giving Prout the game and the Division II championship.
“The game came down to a bunt and an error and that’s what happens in this game especially when it’s a close game like that,” Coach Giarusso said. “They are a great team. I take my hat off to them.”
Path back to the championship
Coach Giarusso feels that with some hard work in the offseason, the Huskies can get back to the championship next year. “Our kids coming back need to get better if we are going to end up back here,” he said. “We have all the potential to get here again. It’s just going to be who works hard in the offseason.”