First-seeded Cranston National Budlong defeated 3rd-seeded Warwick North 5-3 in the opening round of the 2018 12-year-old Softball State Tournament held at Bend Street Complex.
CNB starting pitcher Paige Cote struck out eight and got the win in a complete-game effort. Paige said she used mental confidence to guide her team to victory.
“She’s been pitching for us for a couple years and she’s always a solid pitcher,” Cranston manager Dan Cote said. “I can always rely on her to go out there and throw K’s for us.”
Julia Krause started in the circle for Warwick North and pitched three innings before she was replaced by Emma Burr for the second half of the game.
“They’re both really good pitchers, but they offer different things,” Warwick North manager Kevin Burr said. “So, we tried to keep them on their toes. . . You go through the order enough times with the same pitcher and they can hit ya pretty hard. So, we try to keep them off-balance with the two different styles of pitching.”
CNB shortstop Gabi Jeffrey had two hits and two RBI with five stolen bases and two runs scored in the contest.
In the top of the first inning CNB shortstop Gabi Jeffrey reached base with an infield hit and then stole both second and third base before scoring on a passed ball and putting CNB up 1-0.
Warwick North evened the score at 1 in the bottom of the inning when Alayna Medina drove in Katie Motta with an RBI single through the middle.
In the top of the second with two down, it looked like Warwick North would get out of the inning unscathed when CNB’s Sam Healy pop flied into foul territory, but fortunately for CNB, Warwick North first baseman Audra McDonnell made an error and gave Healy new life. Healy then made them pay when she rocketed an RBI triple to left field and drove in Paige Cote while giving CNB a 2-1 advantage. Gabi Jeffrey then hit an infield RBI single and drove in Healy, upping the CNB edge to 3-1.
In the third inning, Warwick North’s Katie Motta blasted a one-out triple to right field over the head of Taylor Simoneau. Krause ripped a hard line drive off the glove of first baseman Giselle Jeffrey and scored Motta, pulling Warwick North within 3-2. Then, Warwick North loaded the bases with two outs, but Cote was able to get Lily Dewar to ground out to get out of the inning without any further damage.
CNB catcher Sofia Marella ripped an RBI double to center and scored Gabi Jeffrey to extend the CNB lead to 4-2 in the top of the fourth.
Krause hit a one-out triple to center in the bottom of the fifth, but she would end up getting thrown out trying to steal home after an error on the return throw to the pitcher. Then McDonnell fired a hard shot at the shortstop for an infield RBI single and pulled Warwick North within 4-3.
However, CNB got some insurance in the top of the sixth when Gabi Jeffrey hit a sacrifice fly to center field and extended the CNB lead to 5-3.
With the loss, Warwick fell to the losers bracket and played against 2-seeded Middletown on Tuesday.
“These girls are great,” Burr, the manager of Warwick North said. “We have some inexperienced players who just played recreational, the other group plays travel, and they’ve jelled together like we’ve been playing together all year long. It’s a great group of girls.”
CNB stayed in the winners bracket and moved on to the next round to play against 4-seeded Cumberland on Tuesday. CNB manager Dan Cote felt his team was prepared to do some more damage in the tournament.
“I sure do,” Cote said. “I believe in my girls. But like anything, we don’t take anyone for granted. New day, new game. We’ve got to come out and play our best ball to win.”