LEXINGTON, Mass. -- It is a known fact that revenge is viewed as a valuable asset for teams. However, it can also become a huge distraction, as it so often takes away from a program's initial premise.
Burlington avenged an earlier loss to Lexington on Thursday, defeating the Minutemaids, 2-0. The victory served as nothing more than another step towards this program's overall goal of returning to the Division 2 state final. The Red Devils have reached the title game in two of the last three years, having lost to Wahconah Regional (2011) and Grafton last year. They are considered by most as being one of the favorites to return this year.
"We really didn't think about that first game against (Lexington) very much," said junior Kaela Hersee. "We just came out and proved that we can play against them. Overall, I think our entire team is playing very well right now."
Back on April 9, when the two clubs first met, Lexington pitcher Maddie Orcutt struck out 14 en route to a 1-0 triumph.
In the re-match, Orcutt, a senior who will attend Cornell University next fall, continued her dominance over the Red Devils early on. Through the first three innings, the righthander breezed through the Burlington line up, offering up just one infield single while striking out three.
"This game was similar to the earlier one," Lexington head coach Frank Pagliuca said. "It was a pitchers’ duel again for the most part. Today, they were able to string some hits together and take advantage of some opportunities. We really didn't do that today. Pitching-wise Maddie [Orcutt] was great but we need to execute a little better at the plate and that's something that has been an issue for us.
“I was encouraged by how we played for the most part but we just didn't execute offensively the way we needed to. Maddie pitched great against a good, aggressive team. She had to make a couple of adjustments which she did and kept us in it."
In the Red Devils' half of the fourth, things started to shift. With one out, Samantha Gibson singled. Hersee followed by lining a hard liner to left. Lexington left fielder Jane Casey-Fleener appeared to have a bead on the ball but at the last second it tailed away from her, rolling out to no man's land in deep left. With Gibson scoring ahead of her, Hersee never stopped running until she crossed the plate for a two-run homer.
"I was just trying to do my job," Hersee said. "After I hit it, I was just thinking that I needed to keep running."
The two-run cushion served well for Burlington pitcher Jillian Ghio, who replaces all-everything hurler Kelly McCarthy in the circle this year. The righty overwhelmed the Minutemen (3-1) throughout the cold and breezy afternoon. She had not allowed a hit over the first five frames. But in the sixth, the no-hit bid became a memory after Caitlyn Burke lined a shot that caromed off of Ghio for Lexington's lone hit in the contest.
Ghio finished her day with seven strikeouts.
"Seeing [Orcutt] for a second time we knew what she had this time around," said Red Devils coach Kristen Mahoney, her team having now won three straight and improving to 4-1. "We knew how to attack her and the girls got it done. We graduated five starters from last year's team and we have great kids taking their spots, and I feel Jillian is going to be great for us. I'm very excited to have her on this team."