HUDSON, Mass. -- After committing a pair of miscues in the field earlier, Hudson High shortstop Kendal LaFrancois was chomping at the bit for an opportunity to redeem herself.
In the bottom of the seventh inning of yesterday's non-league game against Shrewsbury, the senior got her wish.
With the game deadlocked and the winning run on third base, LaFrancois, after fouling off a handful of pitches, delivered an RBI single to left to give her team a 6-5 victory yesterday at O’Donnell Field.
“I got five change-ups in a row," said LaFrancois, who transferred to Hudson from Nashoba Regional at the start of year. “The last pitch was inside, which is my spot, and I just went with it. This helps a lot because I’ve been making a lot of errors at shortstop of late. It feels good to finally be able to do something good.”
In a contest that saw the Hawks (4-2) squander a four-run lead, it was only fitting for them to display some intestinal fortitude by continuing to battle and eventually come out on top.
In the decisive seventh, Christy McGraw opened by ripping a hard single off the glove of Colonial third baseman Jenna Maksian. McGraw would make her way over to third after a wild pitch and pass ball. Following a walk to Kara Knights, up came LaFrancois. Fouling off four consecutive Natalie Burchat pitches, LaFrancois was still thinking change up. Burchat obliged and LaFrancois ripped a hard liner just in front of left fielder Lauren Pickett sending McGraw home with the game-winner.
“This win means a lot for us,” said LaFrancois, who will attend the University of Charleston in West Virginia next season. “We were coming off a loss to Dracut [7-4] on Thursday. Now we can move forward and put that loss behind us.”
Shrewsbury will reflect back on this game as a would’ve-could’ve ordeal. After closing to within a run at 5-4 in the third inning, the Colonials had several chances to break this tilt wide open during the next three frames. The timely hit they were looking for however never materialized. Shrewsbury would strand eight runners on base between the fourth and sixth innings, respectively, scoring just one time.
“Twice with the bases loaded we had two balls hit hard but right at somebody,” pondered Shrewsbury coach Phil Chevalier, his team falling to 6-3. “We also made a couple of errors today which didn’t help us. We hit the ball well today but we just need to get our fundamentals down on defense. I still believe that we'll be there. I told the girls afterwards that we have to be prepared to do the fundamentals correctly and to just make sure we continue to hit the ball the way we have. ”
The Colonials grabbed an early lead against Hudson starter Jurnee Serating-Ware thanks to a Burchat first-inning RBI double. But the Hawks answered back in the bottom of the frame. With one out, McGraw dropped a single to left but the ball skipped by Pickett allowing McGraw to reach third. Knight followed with a double to left plating McGraw. One out later Maria Hydro slammed a letter-high fastball deep to left for a two-run home run making it a 3-1 contest. The following inning Knight drove a single down the left field line which scored a pair putting the Hawks in command at 5-1.
What looked to be a comfortable margin for Hudson eroded quickly. In the Shrewsbury third, Michaela Hummer and Jacquelyn Kraemer opened with walks setting the stage for Danielle Deraney. The Providence College-bound power-hitting senior ripped a high fastball over the right field fence, cutting the deficit to 5-4.
"We're up 5-1 and in just a blink of an eye you are only up 5-4," Hawks coach Steve Martin said. "I felt holding them to just one run over those middle innings was huge for us. Also, you have Kendal making a couple of errors in the field and then for her to come back and have that game-winning hit really tells you how clutch a player she truly is."
After failing to capitalize on its earlier chances, Shrewsbury finally tied matters 5-5 in the sixth, but just barely. Jenna Pickett led the frame off with a single. Ware retired the next two batters on strike outs but ran into control problems thereafter by walking Deraney and Burchat to load the bases. Lauren Pickett followed with a hard grounder to shortstop that LaFrancois was unable to field the ball cleanly allowing Jenna Pickett to cross the plate.
Ware, who allowed seven hits while striking out eight, escaped further damage by inducing a flyout. Things stayed quiet before the Hawks were able to sustain some last-inning dramatics to come away victorious.