EASTON, Mass. -- Those in attendance for Milford softball’s 12-0 romp over Oliver Ames were hoping to get a glimpse at history. Instead, what they witnessed was a resurgent Scarlet Hawks lineup hitting its stride.
Reigning ESPN Boston Miss Softball award winner Shannon Smith has the Massachusetts all-time strikeouts record within her reach, entering Tuesday’s action 13 punch-outs away. Smith struck out nine Tigers batters before the game ended in the fifth inning, called due to the mercy rule.
With the victory, the Scarlet Hawks (18-1) clinched the Hockomock League’s Davenport division title in the school’s inaugural conference season.
Milford broke it open in the top of the fifth, when the Scarlet Hawks clubbed three home runs, including a back-to-back job by Smith and third baseman Caroline Fairbanks. Sam Bonvino kicked off the home-run parade in the inning, continuing her hot streak at the plate, with a three-run shot to left, clearing the outfield fence by 25 feet. Bonvino’s round-tripper came one out after Allie Piergustavo was robbed by OA left fielder Erin Lynch, who went crashing into the outfield wall outstretched to snag a certain home-run shot.
“Once one person gets a hit, it’s a chain reaction,” Bonvino said.
The fifth-inning outburst reinforced what Milford head coach Brian Macchi has preached to his team in recent weeks. After hitting a mid-season lull at the dish, the Scarlet Hawks’ bats have awoken, collectively.
“I told them that hitting is contagious and it’s about putting the work in, which we have all season long,” Macchi said. “You’re going to have times where maybe the bats aren’t there and it’s about battling through. But we said that we wanted to make sure that we’re headed in the right direction come tournament time and I’m confident in this group where they are right now and their approaches at the plate the last few games.”
Smith needs three strikeouts to tie the all-time state record and four to break. It is likely that moment will come Wednesday as Milford plays host to Marlborough.
“They know,” Macchi said, “the countdown is on, everybody was counting on the bench during the game. They knew she had 13 to go today and now there’s four more.”