GROTON -- With a trip to the district tournament hanging in the balance, Groton-Dunstable clobbered neighboring rival Tyngsboro 12-0 Sunday.
Senior starting pitcher Alyssa Ash (2 for 3, RBI) was automatic inside the circle, striking out seven, while scattering three hits.
"Everybody was making plays and hitting well," Ash said. "My change-up and my rise ball were really working well for me today. Everybody was contributing and making the plays. There wasn't as much pressure on the mound because everybody was making plays -- it made it easier. Coach told us after our last game that all of us worked so hard to get here we might as well take advantage of it."
The win marks the Crusaders first playoff appearance in three seasons.
"It was the seniors last game, and we had to win to get in," Groton-Dunstable head coach Derek Asadoorian said. "I told the seniors if you don't win, it's your last game ever. They came out and played really well. Alyssa was on fire. She had a great day on the mound for us. We hit the ball well and had some big hits."
Ash made quick work of the Tyngsboro line-up retiring the first six batters she faced over two innings. The Groton-Dunstable bats went down silently in the first two innings. A well-placed bunt to start the third inning by sophomore left fielder Emily Figueroa gave the Crusaders the momentum they desperately needed. Figueroa reached on the bunt single and a throwing error.
Groton-Dunstable exploded for seven runs on five hits. Senior center fielder Annika Liljegren (3 for 3, 2 RBI) reached on a double up the middle, which put runners at second and third with no outs. Senior leadoff hitter Celina Antonellis worked a walk to load the bases for sophomore right fielder Laura Bieren. Bieren responded with a slicing sacrifice fly to foul territory in left, which was deep enough to score Figueroa from third to make it 1-0.
Rose O'Malley (2 for 3, RBI, stolen base), Ariana Cho (2 for 3, RBI) and Bridget O'Malley all knocked runs across in the third.
Ash entered the fourth inning with a 7-0 cushion, and she did not disappoint. Ash struck out Alyson Christie on a change-up on three straight pitches. Ash's no-hit bid was broken up by a single to center field by Tyngsboro starting pitcher Melissa Vellucci.
Vellucci was called for the second out of the inning on a fielder's choice by Brooke Bocagz. Ash got the final Tyngsboro batter of the inning to line out to Rose O'Malley in left field. Groton-Dunstable put the Tigers to rest in the home half of the fourth. Liljegren started the inning with a double to center field. Liljegren swiped third and later scored on a sacrifice bunt by Antonellis. Ash came out to finish the game in the fifth inning with a 12-0 lead. Ash struck out the first batter of the inning, but then allowed a single to left field by Alyssa Deschenes.
It was announced Tuesday that Groton-Dunstable will travel to Shrewsbury on Saturday at 2 p.m. to face the Colonials in the opening round. The Crusaders finish the season an even 10-10.
"I don't think we have missed the playoffs three years in a row," Asadoorian said. "It is nice to keep that going. Tyngsboro is going to districts, and they're a quality team. Hopefully, we can have some more good games."