LOWELL, Mass. –- With two future Division 1 college pitchers on the mound in the Eastern Massachusetts Division 1 North final you would expect a low scoring pitcher’s duel to play out.
That was precisely the case when No. 1 Malden (23-1) and their senior ace Kiara Amos (Providence College) took the mound against No. 10 Acton-Boxborough (17-7) and their senior ace Sarah Ropiak (Brown University).
Both teams struggled defensively and both pitchers shined on the big stage as the Golden Tornados pulled out a 3-2 extra-inning victory in the bottom of the eighth to advance to Tuesday’s Eastern Mass. D1 championship game at Martin Field.
“It was a game of strong pitchers,” Malden head coach John Furlong said. “What we have in Kiara they have in Sarah Ropiak.”
Amos tossed a complete game, striking out an impressive 13 batters in her eight innings on the mound. She also got herself out of a couple of jams with big strikeouts in the second, third and fifth innings.
“When she gets runners on base she really bares down,” Furlong said. “That is why she is going to Providence. She is that good.”
Ropiak would match her throughout the night as the Brown-bound star would strikeout 13 Golden Tornados of her own.
“Sarah is so crafty,” Furlong said. “Never does she throw a ball down the middle of the plate. Everything is on the corner, outside or a change-up. She is a good player and also scares the heck out of me whenever she gets up at the plate."
Malden plated their first two runs in the bottom of the second inning as junior Melissa Light delivered the big hit to right field in the inning to lead the charge.
A-B would bounce back with two runs of their own in the top of the third inning as junior Michelle Surdan struck the biggest blow in the inning with her own shot to right field.
After the third inning it would be all about the lights out pitching of both ace hurlers.
Ropiak got out of multiple jams herself in the game with big strikeouts. She also provided an offense lift for the Colonials with two singles and one RBI in the game.
Amos would save her best work for the last three innings in the game as she struck out seven batters and looked to be getting stronger as the game advanced.
“In the seventh and eighth inning I did my best,” Amos said. I knew what I had to get done, not let runners get on base and not let them score.”
Amos struck out the final two Colonial batters in the eighth inning after Ropiak led off with a single to center field.
Light would strike the final blow for Malden in the bottom of the eighth inning with a shot to right field that was mishandled, scoring junior Emily Moran who had singled with one out in the inning.
Program Builder: Malden High School softball is in unchartered waters as they enter the Eastern Mass. championship game against Bridgewater-Raynham on Tuesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“We have never made it this far before and I have never been more proud of my teammates,” Amos said.
A-B defeated Central Catholic 4-0 at Martin field in 2011 behind Ropiak’s shut-out gem before bowing out to eventual State Champion King Philip in the Eastern Mass. finals.
“A-B is a great program,” said Furlong. “They have been here before. This is a great stepping stone for our program. It has taken a long time for us to get here. It was not the flashiest of games but it is what it is. A win is a win and I will take it.”