WORCESTER, Mass. -- Early on, you had a feel that Kendal Roy was on her game.
The Grafton hurler had the dubious task of trying to curtail top-seed Hudson in Wednesday's Central Mass. Division 2 semifinal held at Worcester State University's Rockwood Field.
Having lost to the Hawks back on April 20, Roy had no intentions of seeing that defeat be played out again, especially in the postseason. There would be no déjà vu this time around as Roy put forth a masterful performance inside the circle, allowing just two hits and striking out 12 to lead the Indians to a 3-0 victory.
"It always feels good to beat a very good team," Grafton coach John Gemme said. "A lot of teams want to be where we are and to face good competition and be here at Worcester State."
No. 4 Grafton (21-2) will now play in its third consecutive final here on Saturday beginning at 5 p.m. The Indians will face No. 3 Leicester for a third consecutive year. Both teams split the previous two district final meetings.
Against Hudson, Roy started strong and stayed that way. Through the first 5 1/3 innings, the junior flirted with perfection having allowed no hits or walks until it was broken up on a Laura Hydro infield single.
Meanwhile, the defending state champion Indians had already built its three run lead against Hawks stellar pitcher Jurnee Ware.
To Hudson's credit, it wasn't going down without a fight. Kara Knights led off the Hawks seventh with a single. Haley Gaffney then reached on an error. One out later, Chelsey Scovil lined a single to right loading the bases. Poised and determined, Roy regrouped and struck out the next two batters to seal the win.
"Hudson has always been a team with strong hitters," said Roy. "They started to get with how I throw in the later innings so I knew I had to change up my game plan a bit. I started going inside on them a lot more to get them off-balanced. It's a hard pitch to hit when it's right at your letters."
Ware never quite got into a rhythm as she surrendered six hits and struck out four. Two walks to open the game put Ware in trouble early. Grafton got a run out of it thanks to Roy's RBI fielder's choice. The Indians added another run the next frame. Michelle Goulet singled and scored on Ali Page's single.
Ware appeared to settle down a bit after that. But in the fifth, the senior ran into more problems. Singles by Page and Tara Faford had runners at second and third. Page sprinted home on Roy's ground out to shortstop. Ware was able to avoid any further damage in the frame and keep it a three-run game.
But on this night, a three-run cushion looked very favorable. At the plate, the Hawks were showing little resistance against Roy until they finally woke up a bit in the final inning before having the lights turned out on them putting an end to this tilt.
"We didn't go down without a fight," said Hudson first-year coach Mary Beth Ryan, wrapping up her season at 20-2. "Give credit to Kendal [Roy], she kept us on our toes.
“Grafton is a great team. They made some great plays tonight. Jurnee [Ware] struggled some early. You put a couple people on and it comes back to haunt you. But I thought she battled back hard too."
Leicester 3, Notre Dame Academy 2
Everything was working right for Notre Dame Academy. Facing one of the better hitting teams in all central Mass, Rebels pitcher Casey Arpin was baffling the Wolverines at every turn with a nice mix of fastballs and off-speed junk.
Through the first five innings of Wednesday's Division 2 Central Mass. semifinal, the junior had allowed no runs and given up just four hits.
Meanwhile, Arpin's teammates had staked her to a two-run lead after scoring a pair in the third inning. But Leicester (20-2) managed to hold its frustrations in check and finally found its offensive nitch in the sixth. The Wolverines scored three runs in the frame to come out on top, 3-2, and advance to Saturday's final. Leicester last reached the final in 2011.
The seventh-seeded Rebels close out their year at 17-6.
The Wolverines difference-making frame began with Kelly Shea reaching base on a dropped fly ball from left fielder Caroline Andreoli. The one play seemed to light a fire underneath the Wolverines. Lauren Tuiskula smashed a double to left plating Shea to make it 2-1. Samantha Rivers followed by singling to right to score Tuiskula to deadlock this contest. Rivers would score the go-ahead tally after Ashley George grounded a hard single up the middle.
Tuiskula, now in the pitcher's circle, served up a one out double to Meghan Sullivan but left here there after retiring the next two Rebel batters to end the game.
"It shows you just have to keep fighting and keep playing," Leicester coach Dave Stanick said. "We made a couple of mistakes to give them their runs but we started to hit the ball and put it in play. We get a runner on after a dropped ball. It's unfortunate but it's part of the game and from there we were able to take advantage of that. This year when teams have made mistakes we have taken advantage of them."
The Rebels led by two after Sullivan doubled and scored on an error by second baseman Kiley Hennessey. NDA's second run came via an RBI single from Victoria Pitney.
"We just didn't make the plays in that particular inning and that's the way it goes," Rebels coach Ed Savage said. "We knew Leicester was a very good hitting team and my pitcher did a nice job keep the ball away from them. We knew we had to pitch most of their hitters on the outside corner to be successful. But give Leicester credit because when we made a mistake they took advantage of it. So hats off to them."
Quaboag 7, Hopedale 1
Leading 1-0 through four innings, Quaboag busted its Division 3 CMass semi-final tilt against Hopedale wide open in its half of the fifth. The seventh-seeded Cougars plated six runs against Blue Raiders pitcher Lauren Kapatoes and rolled to a 7-1 victory.
Quaboag (17-6) meets Assabet Valley, the No. 4 seed, in Saturday's final here beginning at 3 p.m. Assabet took the CMass title last year. No. 6 Hopedale completes its season at 16-7.
In the fifth, the Cougars loaded the bases setting up an Andrea Koslowski RBI single. Danielle Sweet, who reached on a fielder's choice and Koslowski would both score shortly thereafter on a Blue Raider error to lead 3-0. The frame continued with a bases-loaded walk to Harlie Wdowiak. Moments later, Sarah Nye plated two more with a line single to right.
The Cougars struck for a run in the fourth inning. Koslowski led the frame off with a double to center field and and scored on Wdowiak's deep fly to center. Kapatoes drove in Hopedale's lone run in the seventh on a SAC fly.