HUDSON, Mass. -- The juggernaut known as Milford just keeps on rolling.
The Scarlet Hawks scored three runs in the third inning to break a 1-1 tie with Leominster and roll on to a 5-1 victory tonight in the semifinals of the Division 1 Central Mass. tournament. No. 1 Milford (21-0) faces No. 3 Holy Name (16-4) Saturday night in the finals beginning at 7 p.m. at Worcester State University. The fifth-seeded Blue Devils completed their season at 14-8.
While Scarlet Hawks' pitcher Shannon Smith has grabbed much of the attention on this team, and rightfully so, it was the bat of Rachel Levine that turned most heads.
The junior belted a home run, a triple and double, along with 3 RBIs, to ignite the Milford offense. With the game knotted at 1-1, the Scarlet Hawks scored three times in the third which was all Smith (1 run, 1 hit, 10 Ks) would need. Taylor Archer made it a 2-1 contest with a ground rule double to right. Levine followed with a two-run double to left. Her home run came in the sixth, belting a solo shot over the right field fence to extend the Scarlet Hawks' advantage to four runs.
"I've been working about with the inside pitch because I don't like to hit it and then I get it and hit a home run so it feels good," said Levine.
Levine's triple in the second inning put Milford on the board first. One out later, she scored on Taylor LeBrun's deep fly to left. Leominster tied the game in the top of the third. Junior Dominique Zarrella walked and moved to second on a ground out. Stephanie Storro then hit a routine grounder to first but the ball got past first baseman Samantha Bonvino allowing Zarrella to score from second. But in the bottom of the frame, Milford's offense went on the attack and the three runs scored was all Smith needed as she kept the Blue Devils in the check the rest of the way.
HOLY NAME 2, SHEPHERD HILL 0
In a pitcher's duel between Shepherd Hills' Molly Covill and Holy Name's Kelsey Saucier, offense would be at a premium. But in the Naps' fifth, Ama Biney, a sophomore, lasered a two-run single to centerfield which was all her team would need as they blanked the Rams 2-0 in the Division 1 Central Mass. semifinal.
"I was just trying to do whatever I could to help my team," said Biney, who finished 2-for-3 at the plate, including a double. "In that inning, with runners on, I was just trying to make contact."
No. 7 Shepherd Hill (14-9) had a chance to take an early lead. In the second inning, with a Samantha Miller standing on third, Emily Handon executed a suicide squeeze. However, Saucier was able to field the ball cleanly, tossing it to catcher Keara LaVallee in time to tag Miller out.
D3: ASSABET 2, QUABOAG 1
In a Division 3 semifinal, top-seed Assabet Valley (19-1) needed extra innings to edge No. 4 Quaboag 2-1. In a re-match of last year's Central Mass. final, won by the Cougars 9-1, it was the Aztecs who had the final laugh this time out. However, it did not come easy.
Assabet took a 1-0 lead in its half of the fourth thanks to a Brittney Lutz single that scored Jen Casavant, who led off the frame with a single.
The Aztecs appeared poised to keep the shutout in tact. In fact right up to the final out. In the final inning, the Cougars (18-4) appeared done after the first two batters were retired. But a triple off the bat of Allyson Smith was followed by a single from Danielle Sweet to tie the game after seven innings. Despite some of the wind taken out of their sails, the Aztecs never got down on themselves. In their half of the eighth, Chelsea Campana delivered an RBI walk-off single. Assabet will meet Blackstone Valley Tech Saturday at 3 p.m. in the final at Worcester State University.
"We had lost to Quaboag last year in the final so we wanted to come out and show them who we are," Campana said. "Blackstone, we know, will be a great competitor. We have beaten them three times this season already but it seems to get closer and closer each time that we play them. We're just hoping for another great game."