EAST PROVIDENCE — A pitchers' duel for five-plus innings, East Providence High School scored twice in the home half of the sixth as the seventh-seeded Townies edged 10th-seeded Chariho 2-1 in …
EAST PROVIDENCE — A pitchers' duel for five-plus innings, East Providence High School scored twice in the home half of the sixth as the seventh-seeded Townies edged 10th-seeded Chariho 2-1 in their single elimination, preliminary round opener of the 2023 Division I state championship softball tournament Tuesday afternoon, May 30.
Senior Emma Bergeron plated both tallies with a line drive lash up the right-centerfield gap, sending her side into the double-elimination main draw of the event where the Townies will travel to second-seeded Cranston West later in the week.
"It was a fastball," Bergeron said of her clutch at-bat. "Once I got up 2-0 and I saw that pitch coming I just swung."
She added, "I was definitely aware of the situation. Nerves are a normal part of it, so I was just trying to channel that, use that. I've been playing this sport for like all my life now, so that moment, I was ready for it."
East Providence improved to 11-8 in league games to date, completing a three-game sweep of Chariho this spring. The locals won 3-0 in Wood River Junction to open the year on March 31 then by an 8-1 count in city on May 8. For the Chargers, their season came to a close with a 6-13 record.
"We matched up really well against West the first time we played them. It was a 2-1 (Cranston West win) game. I'm excited to play them. I think it will be a really good game," said EPHS head coach Katie Kenahan.
Of reaching the main draw of the state tournament, Kenahan added, "It's a huge relief. Now I think it's what can we do next in terms of the tournament. We now have at least two games to play. It's double elimination, so we're just going to go in and try to shock some people and win it."
Townies' ace Keira Quadros went the seven inning distance to earn the win in the circle. The senior struck out nine and allowed just two hits. Her errant throw in the top of the seventh did, however, help the Chargers score their lone run.
Emma Kocab, who took the decision in each of Chariho's losses to EPHS this season, struck out three and also allowed just two hits. An error by shortstop Kaitlyn Daniels in the sixth kept the inning alive and preceded Bergeron's heroics.
Neither team did much offensively through the first three innings. The Townies put runners on in the bottom of the fourth and fifth, but couldn't do anything either time.
In the top of the sixth, Chariho had its best swing of the game to that point with a line shot that EP's rightfielder Kayleen Kim snatched on the run in the gap.
In the bottom of the inning, Trinity Provencher led off with a walk for the Townies, though it appeared the hosts would squander another opportunity after Kocab enticed two infield pop outs.
But then Daniels booted a grounder towards the second base bag, allowing EP's Emma Boisseau to reach safely and setting the stage for Bergeron, who got the count in her favor then ripped a shot that easily scored both of her mates.
Of why her team struggled with Kobac, Kenahan said, "I think it was just our nerves. I think we were a little anxious at the plate. I think the kids were in their heads a little bit, anxious about it being a single elimination playoff game."
Chariho made things interesting in the top of the seventh. Quadros walked lead off hitter Anna Trenton on four pitches, then struck out the next batter for the first out. A fielder's choice followed, allowing Trenton to move to second, but with two down.
Quadros then jammed the next Charger batter Erin O'Leary, but it basically became a swinging bunt. The EP pitcher fielded it cleanly, her throw however was high to Bergeron at first, taking her off the bag and letting Trenton come around to score. Quadros, though, quickly shrugged off her miscue, fanning the next hitter for the final out of the game.