Boston High School: Jackie Delbonis

D1 South softball: B-R 4, North 3 (12 inn.)

June, 10, 2012
TAUNTON, Mass. -- Basically Saturday’s Division 1-South semifinal softball game between No. 3 North Attleborough and No. 2 Bridgewater-Raynham came down to a matter of who would blink first.

In this case it was the Red Rocketeers as the Trojans scored an unearned run in the last of the 12th and won 4-3.

As a result, Bridgewater-Raynham (20-3) will play top-seeded King Philip at 3 p.m. Sunday, also at Taunton, for the sectional title.

“We didn’t start having the energy until that last inning and that’s when we scored,” said winning pitcher Audrey Dolloff. “We just have to keep the energy up.”

Given the length of the game, keeping the “energy up” was a challenge for both teams. But Dolloff’s pitching was a major reason why the Trojans were able to hang with the Red Rocketeers (18-5) until they broke the 3-3 tie.

Dolloff, a senior, allowed nine hits and only one earned run, replete with one walk and eight strikeouts.

Overall, she threw 113 pitches and got stronger as the game progressed.

Over the last seven innings, for example, Dolloff faced just two batters over the minimum and allowed only two balls to be hit out of the infield.

“I felt good the whole game,” Dolloff said. “But I don’t normally think about it until a game’s over. I just go and pitch.”

B-R coach Mike Carrozza was more expansive when discussing the performance of his ace pitcher.

“I think Audrey was a little tight on the mound early in the game even though she’s been pitching for four years,” he said. “But once that girl starts progressing and as the innings go on, she just gets stronger and stronger.”

Dolloff also benefitted from North Attleborough’s swinging at pitches early in the count. And to be specific, she retired the side on nine or fewer pitches in seven innings.

“I think they had the mindset that they weren’t going to let her get her stuff later,” Carrozza said. “So they tried to go first-ball or second-ball swinging.

“Pretty much the pitches I was calling she was hitting them. She was hitting her spots. And as the game progressed she got stronger and stronger.”

In that decisive 12th inning, Emily Kurkul reached on a fielder’s choice and moved up on Juila Milardo’s sacrifice bunt.

Madi Shaw then hit a routine grounder to first base which was booted by Jackie Delbonis for an error.

Carrozza, who was coaching third base, gave Kurkul the “green light” as she rounded third and slid home ahead of Delbonis’s throw for the winning run.

“To win the game, you have to make all kinds of decisions,” Carrozza said. “I had a double steal on the inning before. You have to make something happen. Their pitcher [Megan Colleran, who fanned nine in 11 2/3 innings and gave up nine hits] is a good pitcher.

“They were playing solid defense so at that point you have to make something happen. That’s what we did and we prevailed.”

North Attleborough grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Megan Wynn’s RBI single. But B-R tied it in the bottom half when Shaw (who began play batting just over .700) went the other way and lined a home run over the left-center field fence.

The Red Rocketeers scored a pair of unearned runs in the second as a result of two B-R errors. But that 3-1 lead lasted only until the third when the Trojans tied it on Chelsea Correia’s RBI single and Dolloff’s triple.

“That was big,” Carrozza said of his team’s scoring two runs. “You have to get on the board to get a little momentum going back – especially in the finals.

“It pretty much was a good game with great play on both ends.”

D1 softball: North 2, New Bedford 1 (10 inn.)

June, 3, 2012
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. –- Look in a sports encyclopedia under the category “rubber arm” and you’ll see a photo of North Attleborough pitcher Megan Colleran.

Colleran, a sophomore right-hander, was at her best Sunday as the sixth-seeded Red Rocketeers outlasted 1th-seeded New Bedford, 2-1 in 10 innings, in an MIAA Division 1-South Sectional first-round softball game.

Besides going the distance, Colleran allowed only three hits plus one walk and struck out 10. And when her final pitch total was added up it computed to 133.

Moreover Colleran got stronger as the game progressed.

After New Bedford’s Alexis DeBrosse belted a lead-off homer in the fourth, Colleran retired 21 of the next 23 Whalers she faced.

North Attleboro (17-4) rewarded her efforts when catcher Megan Wynn singled home the winning run in the last of the 10th.

“[Colleran] is a funny kid,” North Attleborough coach Bill Wallace said. “She throws on off days to keep that strength.

“I was going to give her a break the last week of the season because we had back-to-back games. She was like ‘No, coach. I want to pitch back-to-back.’ And she was better in the second game than the first game.”

In retrospect, the game Colleran pitched Sunday paled in comparison with the one she pitched last year.

“She threw an 18-inning game and struck out 30 when we beat Quincy last year,” Wallace said. “I would say probably 22 strikeouts came after the seventh inning. She’s such a competitor. She’s a big, strong kid but she’s also a very cerebral kid. She eats right. She works out. She loves this and wants to do this in college. She has good parents who keep her in check.

“She’s only a sophomore so, hopefully, we’ll get two more years of this.”

What made Colleran’s performance even more impressive was the fact New Bedford (15-7) came into the game with a team batting average just over .400 and a runs-per-game average of 6.9.

“That’s a great hitting team,” Wallace said. “Everything I heard about New Bedford was true.”

As has been the case other times this season, Colleran again will be pitching on zero rest when North Attleborough plays at third-seeded Sandwich on Monday afternoon in a quarterfinal round game.

“After a game like this, you’re ready to go out and play the next day,” Colleran said. “We’re going to be ready and do our best Monday.”
North Attleborough tied the game in its half of the fourth against New Bedford ace Brittany Carvalho (who had thrown two no-hitters this season).

After Colleran reached on a fielder’s choice, Wynn singled her to second and she advanced to third on a grounder by Jackie Delbonis. Colleran then raced home when Carvalho uncorked a wild pitch.

Wynn finished the game going 3-for-5 which included reaching on an error.

“She had an amazing game,” Colleran said of her battery mate. “Meg did really, really well all around today.”

Just when it appeared the game might last until sunset, Lauren Johnson grounded a leadoff single to right and Mikaela Caracciolo walked.

Wallace then gave the bunt sign and Colleran dropped one down between the first base line and the mound. When nobody on New Bedford covered first base, Colleran wound up with a hit.

Wynn then lined the first pitch to left for the game-winning hit.

“I was really surprised,” Colleran said of New Bedford’s snafu. “I figured there would be somebody there because generally with two runners on base and nobody out you put the bunt down.

“I was really excited.”

Wallace, for his part, was both excited and extremely satisfied about his team’s second victory in the tournament.

“We’ve been in the tournament five years in a row and it’s not that we haven’t gotten respect because you don’t deserve it until you make big leaps,” he said. “But it’s like every year we’d win a round in the tournament and then we’d lose in the next round.

“Now, we’re going to the quarterfinals. I think people are starting to say ‘Wow, this team is pretty good.’ Going into the season I think everyone thought New Bedford was the darling because it had the big tournament run last year. This is good for our program. It’s good for the kids and the parents.”