WORCESTER, Mass. -- After losing to Turners Falls in last year's Division 3 state semifinal round, Assabet Valley returned this season with one sole purpose. The bitterness of that one run loss the Indians a year ago remained with the Aztecs throughout the off-season and they would use it as ammunition coming into this year's campaign.
Following Saturday's 5-2 victory over St. Mary's of Lynn in the Division 3 finals at Rockwood Field, Assabet can now wipe the Turners Falls game away from its memory banks and replace it with the joy of claiming its first state championship.
The Aztecs (21-4) broke this game open with a four run third inning. Tied 1-1 at the time, Assabet began the decisive frame with Jocelyn Orangio beating out an infield single. Brittney Lutz then laid down a bunt to the left side. Spartan third baseman Kaleigh Finigan, after fielding the ball, attempted to throw out Orangio at second. The throw beat the sophomore but shortstop Molly Doyle was unable to handle the throw thus putting runners on first and second. Mogran Parmeter followed by lining a single off the glove of Doyle into left field, scoring Orangio to make it 2-1. After a Jen Casavant single loaded the bases, the Aztecs proceeded to bounce into two force outs at the plate.
With an opportunity to escape a serious jam with only one run allowed, St. Mary's pitcher Brooke L'Abbe walked Nicole Cormier to force in Assabet's third run. The Aztecs didn't stop there. They scored two more runs on Deanna Hnilica's infield single and ensuing throwing error by Finigan to grab a 5-1 lead.
"What a great year," Assabet head coach Mike O'Brien said. "Nobody thought we could do this or even win a district championship. We've won two district championships and now we've won a state so I'm very proud of these girls. Our goal was to keep them under two runs and we gave up two. We felt two runs or less we would have a real good chance to win this.
"They made a couple of mistakes and we capitalized. That's how we've won all year. After losing in the state semis last year this team fought all year knowing they wanted to get back there and even a bit further. We were able to get back to the state semis (beating Mount Everett in extra innings) and today was just the pinnacle of all of that."
The Aztecs got on the board first in their half of the second on back-to-back doubles by Casavant and Madison Parmeter. The Spartans (19-6) would tie it in the third. Alex Fisher singled, took second on a SAC bunt and scored after Aztec pitcher Madison Parmeter threw the ball into right field after fielding Victoria Viger's bunt.
Following the four-run inning bestowed upon by Assabet, L'Abbe, a senior, was lifted. The combination of sophomore Jordan D'Orsi and eighth-grader Mia Nowicki kept the Aztecs hit less the rest of the way. With D'Orsi and Nowicki doing their job, the St. Mary's offense failed in comparison as Parmeter (CG, 5 hits, 3 Ks) held the Spartans in check in their quest to jump back into this one.
"I was watching their feet and if they crowded the plate I would throw it inside on them," said Parmeter, a sophomore. I don't think a lot of batters expect that but I have a lot of spin on my pitches and was able to keep them off-balanced for much of this game."
In the seventh, St. Mary's attempted a comeback by scoring a solo run. Cassandra Lafauci doubled to left and came around to score on a throwing error by first baseman Casavant. But that would be the only rallying cry put forth by the Spartans as Parmeter recorded the final out giving Assabet the triumph.
"It's tough," said Spartans coach Colleen Newbury, who was looking to claim her team's third state title having won it in 2009 and 2010. "It is especially tough for our seniors who don't get to play another game. That team played great and made the plays where we didn't. They played great defense against us. We have some good kids coming back so I think it will be a bright future for us."