Boston High School: Jenna Pickett

Recap: No. 22 Hudson 6, No. 17 Shrewsbury 5

April, 21, 2012
HUDSON, Mass. -- After committing a pair of miscues in the field earlier, Hudson High shortstop Kendal LaFrancois was chomping at the bit for an opportunity to redeem herself.

In the bottom of the seventh inning of yesterday's non-league game against Shrewsbury, the senior got her wish.

With the game deadlocked and the winning run on third base, LaFrancois, after fouling off a handful of pitches, delivered an RBI single to left to give her team a 6-5 victory yesterday at O’Donnell Field.

“I got five change-ups in a row," said LaFrancois, who transferred to Hudson from Nashoba Regional at the start of year. “The last pitch was inside, which is my spot, and I just went with it. This helps a lot because I’ve been making a lot of errors at shortstop of late. It feels good to finally be able to do something good.”

In a contest that saw the Hawks (4-2) squander a four-run lead, it was only fitting for them to display some intestinal fortitude by continuing to battle and eventually come out on top.

In the decisive seventh, Christy McGraw opened by ripping a hard single off the glove of Colonial third baseman Jenna Maksian. McGraw would make her way over to third after a wild pitch and pass ball. Following a walk to Kara Knights, up came LaFrancois. Fouling off four consecutive Natalie Burchat pitches, LaFrancois was still thinking change up. Burchat obliged and LaFrancois ripped a hard liner just in front of left fielder Lauren Pickett sending McGraw home with the game-winner.

“This win means a lot for us,” said LaFrancois, who will attend the University of Charleston in West Virginia next season. “We were coming off a loss to Dracut [7-4] on Thursday. Now we can move forward and put that loss behind us.”

Shrewsbury will reflect back on this game as a would’ve-could’ve ordeal. After closing to within a run at 5-4 in the third inning, the Colonials had several chances to break this tilt wide open during the next three frames. The timely hit they were looking for however never materialized. Shrewsbury would strand eight runners on base between the fourth and sixth innings, respectively, scoring just one time.

“Twice with the bases loaded we had two balls hit hard but right at somebody,” pondered Shrewsbury coach Phil Chevalier, his team falling to 6-3. “We also made a couple of errors today which didn’t help us. We hit the ball well today but we just need to get our fundamentals down on defense. I still believe that we'll be there. I told the girls afterwards that we have to be prepared to do the fundamentals correctly and to just make sure we continue to hit the ball the way we have. ”

The Colonials grabbed an early lead against Hudson starter Jurnee Serating-Ware thanks to a Burchat first-inning RBI double. But the Hawks answered back in the bottom of the frame. With one out, McGraw dropped a single to left but the ball skipped by Pickett allowing McGraw to reach third. Knight followed with a double to left plating McGraw. One out later Maria Hydro slammed a letter-high fastball deep to left for a two-run home run making it a 3-1 contest. The following inning Knight drove a single down the left field line which scored a pair putting the Hawks in command at 5-1.

What looked to be a comfortable margin for Hudson eroded quickly. In the Shrewsbury third, Michaela Hummer and Jacquelyn Kraemer opened with walks setting the stage for Danielle Deraney. The Providence College-bound power-hitting senior ripped a high fastball over the right field fence, cutting the deficit to 5-4.

"We're up 5-1 and in just a blink of an eye you are only up 5-4," Hawks coach Steve Martin said. "I felt holding them to just one run over those middle innings was huge for us. Also, you have Kendal making a couple of errors in the field and then for her to come back and have that game-winning hit really tells you how clutch a player she truly is."

After failing to capitalize on its earlier chances, Shrewsbury finally tied matters 5-5 in the sixth, but just barely. Jenna Pickett led the frame off with a single. Ware retired the next two batters on strike outs but ran into control problems thereafter by walking Deraney and Burchat to load the bases. Lauren Pickett followed with a hard grounder to shortstop that LaFrancois was unable to field the ball cleanly allowing Jenna Pickett to cross the plate.

Ware, who allowed seven hits while striking out eight, escaped further damage by inducing a flyout. Things stayed quiet before the Hawks were able to sustain some last-inning dramatics to come away victorious.

Rico nearly perfect for No. 1 King Philip

April, 18, 2011
PLAINVILLE, Mass. –- Meghan Rico was cruising right along during Monday’s matchup against Central Mass power Shrewsbury.

The King Philip softball pitcher had retired the first 12 Colonial hitters in order to start the game. Then, Rico struck out during her plate appearance in the bottom of the fourth inning and really got mad.

“I know that if I’m not hitting well, I need to pitch well,” the junior hurler said.

Not that wasn’t dominant through the first four innings, but something else kicked in. Painting the corners of the plate and mixing in a healthy dose of curveballs and screwballs, the top-ranked Warriors’ ace bore down and finished the gem she’d started with authority.

Only a hit batsmen to start the seventh inning kept Rico from finishing a perfect game, while spinning a no-hit complete game in a 1-0 win over the 20th-ranked Colonials.

“When you’re in these tight games and you need a little something extra, that’s when you hope that your pitcher comes through,” said King Philip head coach Jim Leonard, who celebrated his 50th birthday with the victory. “[Rico] knows when she needs to bear down a little bit and she’s able to that. She’s very consistent and she’s very composed.”

In a stretch from the second through fifth innings, Rico sat down 11 consecutive Shrewsbury (4-1) hitters via the strikeout while finishing with 15 for the outing.

Meanwhile, Colonials pitcher Erica Armenti was nearly as effective, striking out seven and surrendering four hits in a tough-luck decision.

King Philip (5-0) scratched across the lone run of the game in the third inning. Warriors shortstop Jenn Robillard crossed the plate on a double-steal attempt with what would prove to be the game-winning run.

“They did a good job of knocking down a run at the plate,” Leonard said. “Then we had a first and third in the third, and that’s just a chance that you have to take. That was some heads-up running on Jenn Robillard’s part. We work on that a lot and we were able to score the run there. That was the difference.

“You wish it weren’t always that way, but you have to take the runs when you can get them.”

It looked as though King Philip had broken the scoreless stalemate during the previous inning, when Tori Constantin rounded third toward home on Alyssa Siegmann’s single to right. However, Shrewsbury right fielder Jenna Pickett’s throw was right on the money and catcher Kaci Panarelli anchored her outstretched left heel in front of the plate, blocking Constantin short of the plate

Still, the single run provided by Robillard’s guile on the basepaths was all Rico needed on a special afternoon.

“She likes to paint the black,” Warriors catcher Olivia Godin said. “She likes to paint her pitches and work all of her pitches in there. Once we get ahead, we want them to chase. We don’t want to play around with any batter, we want to go right after them.”

Shrewsbury head coach Phil Chevalier knew what his team was getting into while making the trip to the Plainville Athletic League fields, however, and the path doesn’t get any easier this week with defending Division 2 state champion Hudson next on the slate.

“We asked for this game and we wanted to come down here,” Chevalier said. “You like to always win, but I’d rather play a tough game like this than fattening up against other teams.”