Boston High School: Karoline Leavitt

D1 softball semi: Milford 3, Central Catholic 0

June, 13, 2013
TAUNTON, Mass. -- Milford’s Shannon Smith has set the proverbial bar so high that anything short of perfection seemingly qualifies as an off night for this senior right-hander who’s been given a full ride to Kentucky.

Smith blanked Central Catholic, 3-0, in a Division I state softball semifinal game on Wednesday and allowed two hits plus three walks replete with 17 strikeouts – including the 1,200th of her illustrious career. But Smith “only” threw 68 of 110 pitches for strikes and had to wiggle out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth before retiring the side in order in the seventh.

The Scarlet Hawks (25-1) now will get a chance to defend their state title when they'll play the winner of the other semifinal game between Marlborough and Agawam at Worcester State on Saturday.

“I had a little trouble,” Smith said. “I started missing high and low in [the sixth]. I had to relax and throw my game. I think I got a little excited that we were up and were having a good game.

“I got a little ahead of myself and was throwing too hard. I think I had to take a step back and relax and find the strike zone again, and I did.”

In that precarious sixth, the North Sectional champion Raiders (20-5) loaded the bases on Krista Maloney’s double plus walks to Olivia Antczak and Leslie Moore. But Smith fanned Karoline Leavitt which allowed the Milford fans to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Prior to Leavitt’s at-bat, coach Brian Macchi paid a visit to Smith.

“I said we’ve been here plenty of times before,” Macchi said. “We just need one more out and we’ll go ahead and see if we can score more runs.

“We weren’t concerned about the runners on base. We just wanted to get that girl at the plate out and come hit. That was our focus. It was just [Smith] against the batter. Find a way to get her out and we secure our three-run lead and get to hit again.”

After Smith recorded that final out, she reflected on the meaning of the game – which, in a sense, was a bit surprising.

“Coach always gives us a speech before the game about Charlie Sand who was an old baseball coach at Milford who coached him and he always used to call this the ‘no-name’ game because you don’t win any trophies here but it’s still a huge game,” Smith said. “You’re not winning anything by winning this game but you’re getting an opportunity to go to the state championship.

“We call it the ‘no-name’ game. It’s probably one of the most important games of your season because there’s nothing to win coming out of this game, but it’s a crucial game to win.”

Go figure. In retrospect the Scarlet Hawks scored all the runs Smith would need in the first.

Sam Bonvino led with a single and scooted to second base when the ball eluded left fielder Olivia Ciccarelli for an error. Bonvino advanced to third on Lauren Hanna’s groundout to second and scored on a passed ball.

After Smith reached on an infield hit, Rachel Levine roped an RBI double to right-center for a 2-0 lead.

Milford added an insurance run in the fifth on Hanna’s single, a fielder’s choice and Caroline Fairbanks single.

“This time of the year, experience is a huge piece of your success,” Macchi said referring to his team’s post-season excursions. “Last year we were able to get the ultimate prize. And now we’re here again. We have a chance to do it again.

“It’s a great feeling to be there. But it’ll feel a lot better if we can finish it off on Saturday.”

D1 North softball: Central Catholic 11, Boston Latin 4

June, 5, 2013
LAWRENCE, Mass. -- Central Catholic starting pitcher, Olivia Antczak was battling illness, so with its season on the line, Karoline Leavitt stepped up for the Raiders and helped her pitcher breathe a bit more easily.

No. 5 seed Boston Latin led No. 4 Central Catholic, 3-1, during the bottom of the third inning, but with the bases juiced, Leavitt did not miss jump-starting the Raiders to an 11-4 victory in the Division 1 North quarterfinals.

The sophomore third basemen connected and drove the ball deep into center field, clearing the bases.

“I thought we did a good job there because that was [right after Boston Latin] had come out and scored three runs,” Central Catholic head coach Stacey Ciccolo said. “Karoline [Leavitt] unloaded a nice double to clear the bases, and I think everyone relaxed a little bit after. It got a little bit contagious. Nobody had hit the ball hard up until that point really, and we were struggling to get a piece of ball. We were getting on base before that, but after that the girls really relaxed.”

Leavitt’s three-run double highlighted a seven-run inning. Olivia Ciccarelli and Leslie Moore also had RBI in the Raiders big inning.

“We were able to get that lead, but [Central] came right back and it the ball hard,” Boston Latin coach Tim Holland said. “They hit the ball hard where we weren’t, when they didn’t hit it hard it fell in, and they made us pay for a couple mistakes.”

Antczak got roughed up in the third inning, but she stayed in the game to pitch the fourth with no problems. She was battling several symptoms, including a queasy stomach.

“We didn’t think she was going to make it through [the fourth inning],” Ciccolo said. “I thought she showed some real toughness making it through that inning.”

Meg Sears was called from the bullpen to finish off the Wolfpack (17-5), and she did just that. Sears had little problems only allowing one run in her three innings of work.

“Our team has been so good these past couple games, so I was really just ready to go,” Sears said. “It felt great [to get the win].”

Krista Maloney helped add to the Raiders lead in the fifth inning by blasting a solo shot over the right-center field fence. Maloney was only playing in her second game after returning from a concussion.

“It’s very nice [to have her back],” Ciccolo said. “It’s just more comfortable to the rest of the girls [having her back] because she has been hitting leadoff for the past two years. She is very comfortable there, and she is a very smart player.”

Central Catholic (18-4) will face off against No. 1 Concord-Carlisle (21-1), Thursday in the Division 1 North semifinals. They will square off at 7:30 p.m. in Lowell at Martin Field.