ATHOL - Their bats came alive late and the Chuck Stone softball stars captured the District 3 championship with a 13-8 victory over Winchendon Tuesday night at James H. Salevan Field. The Athol girls get right back after it today with their first sectional game at Charlton Little League, 40 Main St., in Charlton.
"The girls are extremely happy, they played their hearts out," said Chuck Stone manager Frank Wrigley. "I told them they needed to dig deep today and they brought everything they had and left it all on the field today."
Chuck Stone led 5-0 early, but Winchendon continued to chip away until a four-run bottom of the fourth gave them a 7-6 lead. It looked like the Athol girls were in trouble, but their bats erupted for five hits, including three doubles, in the top of the fifth as they scored five runs and never looked back.
"I told the girls they needed to dig down and find it," said Wrigley. "I knew they were all hot. We came back and started hitting. I told them to swing the bat and they started hitting. They finally got excited and started playing. I don't know what it was to be honest with you, but they started singing and they all said they wanted to play tomorrow."
After losing the coin flip, Chuck Stone became the visiting team. A leadoff walk to Shelby Mailloux paid off when Rachel Killay doubled her home in the first for a 1-0 lead.
After Haley Bigwood retired Winchendon without any damage in the bottom of the first, Athol pounced for four more runs in the second. The victors were the benefactors of seven walks from Winchendon starter Megan Brown. Angelica Baptista, Bigwood, Killay and Haley Wrigley all drew bases-loaded walks to register an RBI each. After Wrigley's walk, Winchendon elected to swap pitchers and Amber Colcard escaped further damage by getting Ryley Pond to ground into a fielder's choice.
Winchendon got on the board with a run in the bottom of the second as Bigwood hit a bout of wildness as she walked four straight hitters with two outs. She got a popup from Sara Woodbury to Mailloux at shortstop to end the threat.
Marissa Lanoue found herself at second after her grounder got past the Winchendon third baseman and into left field. Abby Roberts then single through the right side to plate Lanoue and give Athol a 6-1 lead. Athol looked poised to add to their lead after Baptista doubled to deep left. With runners on second and third, Bigwood fly to deep left was reeled in to end the inning.
A leadoff walk to Jocelyn Garner set Winchendon up for two runs in the bottom of the third. After Garner stole second she came in to score when Elise Benoit reached on an error. Benoit would later score on an Alicyn Gormley single to cut the deficit to 6-3.
After Chuck Stone left a pair of baserunners on in the top of the fourth, Winchendon struck for four runs in the bottom of the inning. Woodbury drew a leadoff walk and Garner's infield single put a pair of runners on. Benoit would again reach on an error, scoring Woodbury. Bigwood then walked Brown to load the bases which led to a pitching change for Chuck Stone as Haley Wrigley took over on the hill.
"She puts it over and we need to play defense behind her and they made the plays," said Wrigley of the pitching change. "She just gets it over and gives them a chance to hit. Biggy was tiring and we just needed her to get it over and she did."
Wrigley was able to escape the jam thanks to a pair of heads up plays from her center fielder Ryley Pond. Pond alertly covered second base on a grounder to Mailloux for a force out and reeled in a deep fly off the bat of Maria Polcari for the final out of the inning.
Still, the Athol girls found themselves in a 7-6 hole entering the fifth. Emma Simkewicz dropped down a bunt single to start the rally and Baptista doubled her home. Bigwood followed with an RBI double of her own to put Athol back on top 8-7. Killay made it three doubles in a row as Athol took a 9-7 lead. Killay and Pond would later score on a Meg Rich single for an 11-7 lead.
The Athol defense answered with a couple of nice plays from Mailloux in the fifth to hold Winchendon scoreless.
Singles by Celeste Toracco and Baptista got things going for Chuck Stone in the sixth. Killay would single home Toracco and Baptista slid into home on a wild pitch for a 13-7 lead.
Winchendon threatened in the sixth, but Mailloux tagged out Kiley Young in a pickle to end the game and clinch the title.
Killay had four hits and four RBI to lead the Athol offense. Baptista collected three hits and two RBI while scoring three runs. Rich and Bigwood had one hit and two RBI apiece. Toracco, Simkewicz and Roberts also hit safely.
Bigwood struck out six in three-plus innings of work. She allowed just two hits, but walked 10 while throwing 112 pitches. Wrigley finished with two strikeouts in three innings.