TOWNSEND -- As the calendar turns to May, games become more important as teams try to make a play-off push.
This was the case for the Groton-Dunstable softball team as it entered its contest on Wednesday afternoon with a 3-5 record. The Lady Crusaders jumped out to a 9-1 lead before holding off a five-run North Middlesex rally en route to an 11-6 victory in Midland B play.
Every game is important at this point and I liked how we played early on in grabbing the big lead," said Groton-Dunstable coach Derek Asadoorian. "We had a little bit of a letdown defensively in the fourth inning with three errors that led to unearned runs, but we regained our composure and closed things out nicely.
In the top of the first, the Lady Crusaders pushed across the first two runs of the day. Celina Antonellis singled, stole second, took third on a base hit by Jen Johnson and scored on an error. Johnson eventually came around to score on a two-out single by Rose O'Malley that gave Groton-Dunstable a 2-0 advantage.
The Lady Patriots got one run back in the home half of the frame. With two outs, Vanessa Tenore and Julia Murray came up with back-to-back singles. Shannyn Muldoon followed with a base hit and when the ball was misplayed in the outfield, it allowed Tenore to score, cutting the lead to one at 2-1.
After a scoreless second, the Lady Crusaders picked up a pair of runs in the top of the third. Johnson led-off the inning with a single before stealing second. With one out, Alyssa Ash delivered an RBI double before coming around to score on an O'Malley single that pushed the Groton-Dunstable lead to 4-1.
Holding a three-run advantage, the Lady Crusaders seemingly blew the game open with five more runs in the top of the fourth. Ariana Cho reached on an error to start things off and went to second on a Lindsay Maloomian walk. Antonellis then singled and an error on a throw allowed Cho to come around and score. Johnson followed with an RBI single and with one out, Ash brought home another run with a base hit. A pair of wild pitches allowed two more runs to score as Groton-Dunstable now held a 9-1 lead.
As quickly as they had given up five runs, North Middlesex got them back in the bottom of the fourth. Murray got things going with a single, took third when Muldoon reached on an error and scored on a Carmel James single. With one out, Amy Clement reached on an error, scoring another run and Emily Rapoza followed with a two-run double. A pair of errors late in the inning allowed two more runs to score as it was now a 9-6 game.
An unearned run, scored by Antonellis extended the Lady Crusaders lead back to 10-6 and Ash settled down on the hill. The junior allowed only one runner to get past first in her final three innings of work. A Johnson RBI single made it 11-6 in the seventh and Ash shut things down, getting a groundout to end the game and move Groton-Dunstable within a game of the .500 mark.
I thought Alyssa pitched pretty well overall and did a nice job of bouncing back after the rough inning we had defensively," said Asadoorian. "We got big days from Celina and Jen at the top of the order and Alyssa and Rose did a nice job of producing runs. It wasn't a complete, all-around effort, but we got the win and can build off this."
Johnson led the Lady Crusaders with four singles, three runs scored, two runs-batted-in and four stolen bases.
Ash added a double, two singles, two runs scored and two RBI while allowing one earned run on hits while walking two and striking out six for the win. Antonellis (three runs scored), O'Malley (two RBI) and Cho (two runs scored) each had two singles.
Murray (run scored and an RBI) and Muldoon (RBI) each had a pair of singles for the Lady Patriots.