LOWELL, Mass. -- Pitch selection and discipline at the plate were the key to Dracut’s 6-0 win over Winchester in Monday’s Division 2 North final.
Sachems starter Rachael Smith kept the Middies off-balance with a steady diet of drop balls and off the scoreboard through four innings. Something kicked in for Dracut in the fifth, however, as the Middies scraped their first two runs across.
Followed by a four-run outpouring in the sixth, Dracut was well on its way to punching a ticket to Tuesday’s state semifinal.
“At the beginning, we were swinging at stuff that wasn’t that good,” Middies senior center fielder Amanda Vallante said, “but once we went through a couple of time, we started catching on.”
Vallante was the catalyst to the Middies’ late-innings charge with three RBI. She drove in the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth before busting it wide open in the sixth, smacking a two-run single to center to round out scoring.
Cassie and Samantha Durand and Shannon Ramirez also drove in runs for Dracut (23-1).
In the field, Middies ace Lauren Ramirez showed her usual form, striking out 11 in the complete-game shutout.
“Lauren is Lauren, she’s overpowering and the defense has been backing her all year,” Middies head coach George Roy said.
… BUT FIRST THERE WAS A JAM
GeThe fifth inning was the fulcrum on which the game swung. Before Dracut went on the offensive in the home half, the Sachems (16-6) threatened to score.
Winchester had runners on second and third, thanks to an infield error, with two outs.
Lauren Ramirez got out of the jam with a ground ball out and then went on to retire the side in order in both the sixth and seventh.
“Once you get the first out, it gets a lot easier to get the second and the third,” Ramirez said. “We started off bad with the errors, but as it goes along and you start shutting them down, and they’re not progressing on the bases and not scoring, it’s a lot easier to get through that inning.”