TMHS Softball Team Ousts Wilmington, 8-1
Benvenuto and Greene spark Tewksbury to a convincing MIAA tournament win.
It's been an action-packed senior week for Tewksbury High senior softball players Kayla Benvenuto and Ally Greene. And the week they'll always remember only got better on Thursday as Greene and Benvenuto paced the Tewksbury High softball team to a convincing, 8-1 win over Wilmington in the opening round of the MIAA Division 2 North Sectional softball tournament at Memorial Field.
Greene sparked a four-run rally by stealing home in the bottom of the first inning as the Redmen jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
Benvenuto took over from there and pitched a masterpiece, scattering five hits and striking out a career-high 11 batters in earning the complete game victory.
"When Kayla pitches like that we're a very, very hard team to beat," Greene said of her classmate. "We know our bats always come around, but Kayla was just on her game today."
Benvenuto gave up a pair of hits in the Wilmington first but escaped unharmed when right fielder Missy Cordwell and first baseman Shannon McLaughlin combined on a relay to catcher Lauren Texeira that cut down a Wildcat runner at the plate.
After that, Benvenuto was just about untouchable, allowing just two hits and striking out 10 batters over the next five innings. Wilmington ruined Benvenuto's shut out bid with a meaningless run in the seventh, but the senior pitcher was still all smiles afterward.
"I felt good," Benvenuto said. "I got a new rise ball going in there and that was helping me out. I was hitting my spots and moving it around a lot, and that helped."
Benvenuto's outing was one of her best of the season, according to TMHS coach Leo "Doc" DiRocco.
"She might have pitched a little better against Chelmsford and lost (1-0)," DiRocco said. "But she was around the plate all day and that's what we want. She struck out a lot of batters and our defense is very, very good. We made the plays behind her when we needed to."
Offensively, Greene got things started in the bottom of the first when she drew a lead-off walk and immediately stole second. Greene took third on an infield out and jumped all over the first chance she had to steal home from there.
"I was just looking for any opportunity and as soon as I saw the ball roll between (the catcher's) legs I just went for it," Greene said. "If you can score in the first inning that just sets the tone, and we wanted to do that."
Junior outfielder Sherri Liggiero followed with one of the biggest hits of the game just moments later, cracking a two-run double that scored Tiffanie Marsh and Lauren Texeira to make it 3-0. Junior third baseman Katie Doherty then drove in Liggiero with a single, and the Redmen had taken complete command of the game before the Wilmington bus driver had even found a parking spot.
Tewksbury made it 5-0 in the fifth when Brooke Hardy led off with the first of her two hits on the day. Hardy stole second and scored when Marsh cracked an RBI single.
The Redmen added three more insurance runs in the sixth, as Sam Laferierre doubled and Greene walked. Hardy then slammed a two-run triple, and later came home on an infield out.
Hardy finished the day with two hits, two runs scored and two RBIs, while Marsh had a hit, a walk, two runs batted in and one run scored.
Texeira had two hits and a run scored while Liggiero had a hit, two walks, two runs batted in and a one run scored. Doherty collected two hits and an RBI, and Laferierre had two hits and scored a run out of the No. 9 spot.
TMHS collected 10 hits and did not commit a single error on the day.
"I think our kids stepped up today," DiRocco said. "They were excited and they were focused. They had their heads in the game and we made the right plays."
Tewksbury now advances to the second round of the state tournament. The Redmen will play the winner of Saturday's game between Amesbury and Marblehead, on Monday June 6th.
Amesbury is the top seed in the bracket having finished the regular season with an 18-2 record. Marblehead is the No. 17 seed with a 12-10 record. If Amesbury wins, Monday's game will be in Amesbury. If Marblehead wins on Saturday, Tewksbury will host Monday's game.
"It would be great to have another home game, but I'm not really worried about who we play next," DiRocco said. "If we play like we did today I think we're gonna make people work really hard to beat us. I feel good about this team. I have all year."
For Greene, who was elected Prom Queen on Tuesday and was named Tewksbury High's Outstanding Female Athlete on Wednesday, there's only one more thing that could make this senior week better.
"It's going awesome," Greene said. "We're finishing up good. The only other thing is if we can go all the way (to a championship), then it'll pretty much be perfect."