D2 softball final: Grafton 2, Burlington 1

WORCESTER, Mass. -- If you are Grafton softball head coach John Gemme, you always like your chances when you hand the ball to pitcher Kendal Roy.

The junior right-hander is one of the upstart premier pitchers in the state and, once again, she put those talents on display Saturday and, in the process, made believers out of Burlington.

Playing an instrumental role in helping the Indians win their first Division 2 state championship a year ago, Roy was back at Rockwood Field looking to raise another banner. After working her way out of some early trouble, Roy got into a groove which spelled doom for the Red Devils as she pitched the Indians to their second consecutive state crown with a 2-1 victory.

Roy grew more-dominate as the game progressed. She finished her day by allowing just four hits while striking out 11. Burlington senior pitcher Kelly McCarthy, also solid in defeat, surrendered eight hits, fanning five.

"You get the first one and you say that's unbelievable because a lot of things have to go right," Gemme said. "To get a second one is a lot harder. There is a lot more work involved. Today we needed to be aggressive at the plate. McCarthy was trying to get ahead of our hitters so we felt lets just jump on that first pitch if its a strike. If she throws a first pitch strike lets not wait and just get after it right away. I thought we did a good job of that today."

Grafton (24-2) entered this contest having played its state semifinal game the night before at Turners Falls High School, where it defeated Wahconah Regional. The bus ride from Grafton to Montague is approximately 90 minutes. But a lack of sleep didn't seem to bother the Indians too much.

"We knew there wasn't a game after this one so we just wanted to go out and leave everything on the field," Roy said. "We came in pumped up on adrenaline from Friday night's win and we took it into this one today so I wasn't feeling any pain. I think we have proven that we are a good team and Grafton softball has a very good organization."

Grafton got on the board in the second inning. After McCarthy had set down the first two batters with ease, she issued a walk Makayla Ritzie. The sophomore then stole second before coming home on senior Marissa Ruggiero's solid single up the middle.

One inning later, Grafton was back at it. Amanda Voellings, a sophomore, singled and advanced to second on Ali Page's SAC bunt. Tara Faford (5-for-6 in her last two games) reached on an infield single to put runners on the corners. Roy then smacked an RBI single to center giving the Indians a 2-0 advantage.

Burlington (22-4) will look back on this game knowing it had some early chances to score on Roy. Three times during the first four innings they stranded runners in scoring position -- twice at third. But Roy, showing tremendous poise, managed to tight rope out of danger and keep the Red Devils off the scoreboard.

In the sixth, Burlington was able to manufacture a run. April Adams opened by reaching on a Voellings error at second base. After stealing second, Adams took third on catcher Ali Page's throwing error. With one out, Haley Currie hit a SAC fly to right allowing Adams to tag up and score.

Suddenly the Red Devils had come to life having closed to within a run. But in the seventh, Roy reached back for a little something extra and retired Burlington in order and claim another state championship.

"I don't think we've had anyone strike us out 11 times before today," said Red Devils head coach Kristen Mahoney, whose club fell to Wahconah in the 2011 title tilt. "We weren't able to adjust to [Roy] quick enough. We had some extra base hits early but that timely hit just wasn't there for us today."