Merrimack High School rolls to softball win over Nashua South

NASHUA – The spring weather was warm, but the Merrimack High School softball team’s bats were hotter when the Tomahawks paid a visit to Nashua High School South on Monday.

Merrimack churned out 12 hits, including three hits and six RBIs from Ashley Grassini, in a 13-1 win over the Panthers in Division I competition.

Before the Tomahawks’ bats warmed up, South pitcher Lexi Correa provided the heat from the mound in the opening two frames with five strikeouts, including one for Grassini, who was caught looking.

But, Grassini was able was able to crack the code the third. Grassini cranked out a deep shot to right field that fell among the Panthers’ outfielders to drive in Britt Camara and Julianne Mayville to open up the Merrimack production.

“I was seeing where the strike zone was, and it was high and outside,” Grassini said. “I got used to the strike zone and played around with it. She was throwing them to the outside and I was hitting them to that side.”

Lauren Gerhard drove in two more runs in the inning when she looped a ball to first base that was mishandled.

In the ensuing frame, Grassini slammed another shot to right field to drive in a pair of base runners in addition to a Rennee LeClaire RBI to make it 7-0. Grassini later tripled to right to drive in two runs before stealing home on the following batter for the final tally.

“She’s an absolute stud,” said Merrimack coach Jim Peltak on Grassini. “She could be hitting college pitching. “

South (0-4) finished with a moral victory with a deep shot into left field from Jazzy Perez for a triple where Teddi Kramer drove her home on a grounder up the center of the Tomahawks’ infield. Kramer got herself into scoring position when she slide safe into second for the stolen base, but was the first out on a 5-3 double play by Anjelica Gonzalez.

“We came out slow, which we have been preaching all season long, we’ve got to jump on them early,” Peltak said.

Merrimack’s experience was evident over South’s inexperience. The Panthers are in a transition phase this year with six freshman in the lineup.

“We have a couple of good first innings and then we’ll have a hiccup in the third or the fourth inning and then it tends to snowball,” South coach Pete Perkins said. “It’s just a matter of getting these girls’ confidence up so that if they make a mistake it won’t get in their heads.”

Correa had a productive afternoon having turned away eight batters.

“That’s the best game she’s pitched all year long,” Perkins said of Correa.

South will next see Exeter (1-2) at home on Wednesday.

The strong production at the plate came to little surprise for Peltak, but the defensive effort his team exhibited was particularly satisfying . South managed only two hits and Caitlin Minear served up five strikeouts and two by Jessica Humphrey in her relief.

“We’ve got to have solid defense and solid pitching because our bats are going to be there throughout the season. We’ve got a lot of really good hitters,” Peltak said.

The Tomahawks will be back in action when they visit Pinkerton (2-1) on April 28.