ACTON, Mass. -- Acton-Boxboro girls' softball looks at the game one pitch at a time.
Well prepped for any defensive scenario, the Colonial fielders have shown the ability all season to buckle down and smother runs no matter the situation.
In their Dual County League (Large) opener, host No. 11 A-B (5-3, 5-1) flexed its defensive prowess once again as it ran over No. 12 Boston Latin, 8-2, on Thursday.
“If the ball goes through your legs or you drop a pop up, just think about the next play,” A-B head coach Mary Matthews said. “We do so many different drills. We try to mix it up so they are never surprised.”
The defending Division I North champs allowed an average of only 0.71 runs per game coming into action.
A-B's defense was lead with a complete game performance from pitcher Sarah Ropiak who struck out seven while allowing only seven hits and two runs. The senior went 3-for-4 from the plate, including three RBI, while teammate Maddie Hatch was a perfect 4-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
“You have to get them to put it in play where you want them to put it in play,” Ropiak said of her pitching. “If we are looking for a ground ball it would be a drop. On a windy day like today, we do not want it up in the air.”
A four-run and seven-hit inning helped A-B grab the victory from a 2-0 deficit entering the bottom of the third.
Ropiak opened the scoring with a double down the line for a run, while teammate Hannah Graney lined a two-run frozen rope single with the bases loaded for a 3-2 lead and the winning run. Michelle Surdan then grounded a ball up the middle and the Colonials ended the inning up 4-2.
“Our goal is to get on base and move our runners over,” Matthews said. “We are finally learning about having runners on base and hitting deep to score runs.”
A-B's Kara O’Riley hit a sacrifice fly for a run in the fifth, while the Colonials added three tallies in their final at bat with four hits.
A pair of singles and a steal put teammates Lindsay Chen and Nicole Geoffrion in scoring position with one out in the sixth, before Ropiak brought both home with a double off the center field wall.
A hit by Kirsten Pfister and a single by Hatch each added a run for an 8-2 margin.
“I know I can battle with two strikes, so I do not worry about swinging at each pitch,” Ropiak said of her at-bat. “She had been keeping it low most of the game, so I took advantage of a high throw.”
Despite struggling to score late, the Wolfpack knocked in the first run of the match with two outs in the third off a two-run shot from outfielder Courtney Hoban. With teammate Mary DeMoura on first off an outfield long drive, Hoban rocketed a high pitch a few yards over the center-field wall for a 2-0 lead.
Boston Latin (7-2, 4-1) stranded 10 in total, while A-B left eight on base.
“She just turned on it and got up to get a nice charge on it,” Boston Latin head coach Tim Holland said of Hoban's blast. “We kept getting runners on with two outs. A couple miscues with a top team like this and they will make you pay for it.”
This was the first large conference game for both squads. The pair entered the day with the two best all-around and league records in DCL (Large) division, with A-B grabbing the division advantage after the win.