WORCESTER, Mass. – The kids are better than alright.
Grafton softball, which boasts just 12 players on its game roster, only two of which were seniors this season, claimed its first-ever state championship, edging Abington, 1-0, at Worcester State University on Saturday.
The Indians ran through most of the regular season with an undefeated record, and they continued tearing through the postseason, outscoring opponents 28-4 in three games during the Division 2 Central tournament, before taking a 3-2 win over defending state champion Hampshire Regional in order to get to championship Saturday.
Once there, Grafton was carried by a sophomore pitcher, Kendal Roy, who threw a complete-game, three-hit shutout. The game-winning hit was provided by a freshman, second baseman Amanda Voellings.
This may have been the first time, but these Indians aren’t going anywhere.
“We’ve been playing since middle school, since we were 10 years old, together,” Roy said. “I think this is the team, this year and next year that’s going to be the strongest. I know all the girls, we’ve known each other for years.”
The Indians (24-1) played a very much collaborative game. Roy pitched to contact and let her slick-fielding teammates take care of the work behind her.
Yet, Roy was able to pump it up when called upon. Half of her six strikeouts came in the third inning, when she struck out the side despite some difficulty. Green Wave center fielder Alicia Reid lined a two-out single to center. The fleet-footed junior promptly stole second and kept running to third on an error on the throw down. It was then Roy ratcheted up the velocity and ended the inning on a three-pitch strikeout to end the frame.
Grafton struck for its run in the fifth, when first baseman Kate Cardoza led off with a single. After Nikki Murphy laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Cardoza over to second, Voellings rapped a two-out single to right.
“I moved in on the plate because I noticed she was going outside a lot and I struck out the first time, so I wanted to make sure I could cover [the plate],” Voellings said of her at-bat.”
SOMETHING HAD TO GIVE
Both Grafton and Abington were in uncharted waters Saturday, making the deepest postseason run in either program’s history, so someone had to go home a first-time champion.
It didn’t work out for Ernie Ortega’s Green Wave (23-3) this year, but like their Saturday opponent, Abington has a young nucleus. While the Green Wave will certainly miss outgoing ace Kelly Norton (CG, 4 K, 5 H, 0 BB vs. Grafton) in the circle, things are looking up.
“This was a great group of girls,” Ortega said. “We’re going to lose four seniors, two that were starting players, so hopefully we’ll be able to fill in some of the gaps. We’ll need to break in a pitcher or two, but we’ve got a lot coming back, so we’ll try to make a deep run next year.”