Boston High School: Julia Milardo

D1 South softball: B-R 5, D-R 4

June, 2, 2013

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Trailing by a run in the home half of the seventh inning in their Division 1 South tournament game Saturday, Bridgewater-Raynham softball head coach Mike Carrozza needed the bottom of his lineup to save the day.

No problem.

“As a team this year, we’re batting over .400,” Carrozza said, “so everyone, one to nine, can hit the ball.”

The Trojans had the Nos. 6, 7 and 8 hitters at-bat in the seventh. They set the rally in motion and No. 9 hitter, second baseman Sophie Perez took care of the rest, slapping a two-run single through the hole for a 5-4 walk-off win against No. 16 seed Dighton-Rehoboth.

It might not have been the type of game B-R (21-0) was looking for, after committing a season-high three errors, resulting in a pair of unearned runs, but it was good enough.

“A couple times we had the bases loaded, or second and third, and they made nice plays to get us out of those innings,” Carrozza said. “I told the girls to never say never. We came back in I don’t know how many of those games at the end of last year.”

The late-innings comeback was old hat for the reigning South sectional champions, who endured more than a couple extra-innings affairs on their run to the crown.

On Saturday, Jordan Rodrigue and Julia Milardo got the rally going with back-to-back singles to start the seventh. After a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt from Jenny Heller moved the runners along, Perez dug in.

“I knew we didn’t need much,” said Perez, a sophomore. “I knew I just need to get a single, score a run get it tied. That was my job. I saw a nice outside pitch and went with it.”

She pulled a 2-2 offering into left field, allowing Rodrigue and Milardo to score easily. Perez’s teammates mobbed her near second base.

It wasn’t the first big hit Perez (2-for-4, 3 RBI) delivered on the day. She drove in the Trojans’ first run of the game, during a two-out rally in the fourth, on with an RBI single.

“She stayed short on the ball and drove it through the hole,” Carrozza said of Perez’s game-winning hit. “That’s what it’s all about, getting the ball in play and trying to move your runners.”

Coming off a season in which the Trojans fell just short of a state championship appearance, the group has greater goals set for this playoff run.

“That’s the plan,” Perez said, “working hard at practice [Sunday] and then beating Taunton on Monday.”

B-R capped an Old Colony League championship season with a perfect record, but knew they’d have their hands full with Saturday’s opponent. The Falcons (15-9) were a 16th seed only by number, coming out of an uber-competitive South Coast Conference.

The Trojans, who committed just eight errors on the regular season, had three errors, putting undo pressure on sophomore starter Sarah Dawson, who was making her first postseason appearance. Dawson averted further damage as D-R threatened in the fourth with the bases loaded, the result of another B-R error. In total, three of the four Falcons’ runs were unearned against Dawson, who struck out eight to earn the complete-game win.

Assuredly, B-R will hope to bring its A-game when it meets former OCL rival Taunton in Monday’s quarterfinal game (3:30 p.m., at B-R).

“I feel like we can do anything,” Perez said.

While D-R certainly played well enough to win, head coach Dave Driscoll, the veteran of multiple state championship teams in his tenure, took nothing but positives from his team’s season-ending loss.

“This year hasn’t always been a textbook year for us, but we overcame some adversity today,” he said. “We gave up a lead, but they came back. Our pitchers struggled some this year, but they battled today. I told all of them to be proud of wearing a Falcon uniform today.”

However, Saturday marked the end of a remarkable career for the Falcons’ four-year catcher, Nicole Lundstrom. The already two-time ESPN Boston All-State selection and Syracuse signee closed out her career with a 3-for-3 performance with two RBI and a walk.

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.”