Wilton-Lyndeborough softball on to championship game
PLYMOUTH – The Wilton-Lyndeborough softball squad’s huge nine-run third inning led it to a 14-6 pounding of Profile in Division IV semifinal-round tournament play at Plymouth State University on Thursday night.
And that resounding success snagged coach Denny Claire’s Warriors their first trip to the state title game in five years. They will face either Epping or Woodsville in the championship battle on Saturday afternoon at PSU.
The second-ranked Warriors thumped out some 15 hits en route to their 14 runs and received strong pitching work from Division IV Player of the Year and senior Lexi Balam.
Profile bagged a quick 2-0 lead – loudly – when number three hitter Hope Drake Duval drilled a long home run to left field with a teammate on base.
But the Patriots proved unable to make several basic plays in the field in the latter half of that frame and Wilton capitalized with run-scoring singles by Janel Bachand and Emma Skelly to knot the score at 2-2 on unearned runs. The Warriors bashed three hits but left two runners stranded on base.
And Wilton got right back down to work on offense in the latter half of the second, loading the bases with one out and notching the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice which plated Madison Raymond from third base to make it a 3-2 contest.
Hurler Balam held Profile scoreless in the second and third innings, and she and her teammates busted the game open in the latter half of the third by scoring those nine runs on six hits and one more Profile error.
Balam aided the cause with a two-run double, Bachand also smacked one of those, and other runs were bashed in by Raymond, Brooke Lane, and Abby Dowling.
But with the score now sitting at 13-2, Profile’s Patriots made it plain that they wouldn’t curl up and go away as they refused to let the 12-run rule kick in by scoring four times on three hits in the top of the fifth to make the score 14-6.
That, however, would be it on the scoring in this offensively-charged battle.
Winning pitcher Balam allowed 10 hits but just two walks while striking out seven would-be hitters.
Her offense got multiple hits from Balam (single, double), Bachand (double and two singles), Skelly (two singles), Dowling (three singles), and Raymond (two singles).
The second-seeded Warriors reached the tourney semifinals for longtime coach Claire by disposing of seventh-ranked Sunapee in a 10-2 blowout in the quarterfinals. Number three Profile got there by knocking off number 14 Pittsburg-Canaan in the prelims (13-3 score) and then sixth-seeded Farmington in the quarters (10-2).
Wilton and Profile did not meet up during the regular season, which the Warriors completed with a 14-2 record and an 8-1 mark in their last nine contests. Profile finished the regular campaign at 13-3 with – just like the locals – an excellent 8-1 tally in its final nine regular season battles.
The two contingents stepped into their semifinal contest knowing they’d face the winner of the semi between number one Epping and number four Woodsville in the title game Saturday at 5 p.m. back up there at PSU.
The Warriors have won eight state championships in program history, and played in a slew of state title games. But the last time they were in one of those was 2014, when they won a crown.