Central softball: Valley Tech, Leicester advance

HUDSON, Mass. -- Earlier in the week, Blackstone Valley Tech standout and the nation's leader in batting average, Bella Picard suffered a hairline fracture to her left ankle after being struck by a pitch against Worcester Tech in a Division 3 quarterfinal contest.

Yesterday, with the ankle heavily wrapped, Picard was in the line up versus Uxbridge in a Division 3 semifinal match up at Hudson High School. Despite playing in pain, the junior never let is show as she went 2-for-3, including a triple to help lead the Beavers to an 8-5 victory over the Spartans.

No. 6 BVT (17-4) advances to the Central Mass. final to be played on Saturday at Worcester State University beginning at 3 p.m.. The Beavers will face the winner of today's Quaboag/Assabet Valley winner.

Uxbridge, which was coming off a 15-1 quarterfinal rout of No. 2 Murdock continued its hot hitting against the Beavers in the early-going.

The Spartans erupted for four runs in the opening inning keyed by a Samantha Wise two-run single. BVT got a run back in the bottom of the first which served as a prelude to the third when it scored five times to put this one out of reach. A bases-loaded two-run single by Megan Ferscheke and a two-run Uxbridge error allowed the Beavers to take the lead for good.

BVT scored solo runs in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively on RBIs from Megan McFadden and Amber Wheaton. Beaver pitcher Alycia Wagner survived the first inning nightmare by keeping Uxbridge off the board until the seventh when it managed a run.

"Our whole thing is no pressure," said Picard, a junior "We weren't worred (after we fell behind). We always seem to struggle in the first inning of games. We feel we have nothing to lose in this tournament. We're going out there to have fun."


In a Division 2 affair, defending Central Mass. champ Leicester was able to survive a scare from No. 7 Notre Dame Academy, to secure a 3-1 triumph.

No. 3 Leicester (20-2) will meet Grafton (4-3 winners over Hudson on Wednesday) in Saturday's final beginning at 5 p.m. at Worcester State University. The Rebels close their season at 15-8.

The third-seeded Wolverines trailed 1-0 after the first five frames but the offense finally arrived at a most crucial time in their half of the sixth. Lauren Tuiskula led things off with a triple to right field. Hailey Terrien followed that up with a double to let, tying the game at 1-1.

For Rebel pitcher Casey Arpin, who was doing a good job keeping Leicester in check for much of this contest, things continued to worsen in the inning. Julia Hebert blasted a hard grounder back at Arpen, which deflected off of her glove, allowing Terrien to come in with the eventual game-winner. Ashley George gave the Wolverines some insurance by striking a single to right that plated Hebert.

Just prior to Leicester's dramatics, NDA had an opportunity to pad its lead in the top of the inning. But a perfectly-executed relay from Terrien in right field to second baseman Amanda Stanick to catcher Jill Witkowski gunned down Emilia Froio, who was trying to score from second on a base hit by Meghan Sullivan.

"These kids have battled all year and have a never give up attitude," Leicester coach Dave Stanick said. "We hit the ball hard in that sixth inning and ran the bases well. I jokingly said let's not wait that long next time to do that. Late in the game we still felt it was just a matter of time for us that if we get enough chances we'll come through and we did."