Boston High School: Maddie Hatch
May, 25, 2012
By Shawn Myrick | ESPNBoston.com
MILFORD, Mass. -- It was only fitting for Milford ace Shannon Smith to finish her season face-to-face with Colonials' starter Sarah Ropiak.
Dominating all year for their respective state softball semi-finalist teams, the Scarlet Hawks hurler started and finished her schedule scraping for a win against A-B's top senior. As was the case in their season opener, the junior again grabbed a slim one-run tilt for top-seeded Milford (20-0) with a 3-2 triumph over guest No. 11 Acton-Boxboro (12-5) on Thursday.
“Being behind [is] something that has not happened too us much this season,” Milford head coach Brain Macchi said. “Shannon threw some pitches that were important for us to get out of jams. She is putting in the work during the offseason (and) coming in physically and mentally strong.”
Smith tossed eight strikeouts for Milford, while Ropiak finished two hitters. The Colonials' senior allowed two additional smacks, with 10 hits and one walk.
BATTLING AT THE PLATE
Macchi looked for aggressive at-bats from his girls, but has preached all season the importance of pumping up the pitch count.
A lofted center field triple by sophomore Sam Bonvino brought home teammate senior Lindsey Read from first for the winner in the fourth, while a frozen rope by junior Carolyn Fairbanks dropped through the glove of leaping center fielder Lindsey Chen to score the first run for the Mid-Wach A Conference champs.
After forcing 28 pitches in the second, a foul-line dribbler by junior Rachel Levine knocked in Fairbanks from second for a 2-2 tie in the third.
“From day one of the season, we talked about having the pitcher work and work and work,” Macchi said. “Sarah Ropiak is a great pitcher and she is going to be around the strike zone. We are trying to put the ball in play and make their team make plays.”
Fairbanks went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI, while Levine also banged out a 2-for-3 day with one RBI.
The Dual County (Large) leaders lost their previous matchup 1-0 at home off a wild pitch. Allowing 17 strikeouts in their last battle, coach Mary Matthews looked for stronger at bats in the rematch.
Facing a one run hole, Ropiak finished A-B's fourth straight single to open the third with a blooper for an RBI along the first-base line.
The Colonials pulled ahead off a fielder's choice rip by Lindsey Chen in their following at-bat.
“We accomplished the goals we wanted to accomplish [to] not to give up an unearned run, not to fall apart after something goes wrong, and
to have quality at bats,” Matthews said. “Last time we played them [Smith] just mowed us down. Bunt if you have to [or] slap if you have,
but fight, fight, fight just so you have a chance.”
Maddie Hatch and Kirstin Pfister (one run) led A-B, going 3-for-4.
PAINTING THE CORNERS
Smith has won 19 of Milford's 20 games this season, including her eighth no-hitter yesterday in a 2-0 blanking of Leominster. The junior did not avoid hits this afternoon, but looked to work the corners and limit deep knocks.
Smith allowed only singles with nine Colonial hits.
“A lot of the hits where they scored runs were little bloopers,” Smith said. “Stuff they were getting off the end of the bat. Keep hitting the corners so they can not hit anything too deep and go yard.”
April, 27, 2012
By Shawn Myrick | ESPNBoston.com
ACTON, Mass. -- Acton-Boxboro girls' softball looks at the game one pitch at a time.
Well prepped for any defensive scenario, the Colonial fielders have shown the ability all season to buckle down and smother runs no matter the situation.
In their Dual County League (Large) opener, host No. 11 A-B (5-3, 5-1) flexed its defensive prowess once again as it ran over No. 12 Boston Latin, 8-2, on Thursday.
“If the ball goes through your legs or you drop a pop up, just think about the next play,” A-B head coach Mary Matthews said. “We do so many different drills. We try to mix it up so they are never surprised.”
The defending Division I North champs allowed an average of only 0.71 runs per game coming into action.
A-B's defense was lead with a complete game performance from pitcher Sarah Ropiak who struck out seven while allowing only seven hits and two runs. The senior went 3-for-4 from the plate, including three RBI, while teammate Maddie Hatch was a perfect 4-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
“You have to get them to put it in play where you want them to put it in play,” Ropiak said of her pitching. “If we are looking for a ground ball it would be a drop. On a windy day like today, we do not want it up in the air.”
A four-run and seven-hit inning helped A-B grab the victory from a 2-0 deficit entering the bottom of the third.
Ropiak opened the scoring with a double down the line for a run, while teammate Hannah Graney lined a two-run frozen rope single with the bases loaded for a 3-2 lead and the winning run. Michelle Surdan then grounded a ball up the middle and the Colonials ended the inning up 4-2.
“Our goal is to get on base and move our runners over,” Matthews said. “We are finally learning about having runners on base and hitting deep to score runs.”
A-B's Kara O’Riley hit a sacrifice fly for a run in the fifth, while the Colonials added three tallies in their final at bat with four hits.
A pair of singles and a steal put teammates Lindsay Chen and Nicole Geoffrion in scoring position with one out in the sixth, before Ropiak brought both home with a double off the center field wall.
A hit by Kirsten Pfister and a single by Hatch each added a run for an 8-2 margin.
“I know I can battle with two strikes, so I do not worry about swinging at each pitch,” Ropiak said of her at-bat. “She had been keeping it low most of the game, so I took advantage of a high throw.”
Despite struggling to score late, the Wolfpack knocked in the first run of the match with two outs in the third off a two-run shot from outfielder Courtney Hoban. With teammate Mary DeMoura on first off an outfield long drive, Hoban rocketed a high pitch a few yards over the center-field wall for a 2-0 lead.
Boston Latin (7-2, 4-1) stranded 10 in total, while A-B left eight on base.
“She just turned on it and got up to get a nice charge on it,” Boston Latin head coach Tim Holland said of Hoban's blast. “We kept getting runners on with two outs. A couple miscues with a top team like this and they will make you pay for it.”
This was the first large conference game for both squads. The pair entered the day with the two best all-around and league records in DCL (Large) division, with A-B grabbing the division advantage after the win.
June, 13, 2011
By Tom Layman | ESPNBoston.com
LOWELL, Mass. -- The third time was a charm for the Acton-Boxborough softball team.
The No. 7 Colonials (19-5) picked up the Division 1 North final trophy with a 4-0 victory over No. 5 Central Catholic (18-4) on Tuesday at Martin Field in their third trip to the sectional finals (1999, 2007).
“We’ve been just pushing ourselves to get to this point,” said Colonials head coach Mary Matthews, who was a sophomore on the 1999 team that lost in the finals. “All season it’s been believe in yourselves after a rough start. To be here today is just awesome.”
The Colonials lost four times in their first five games, but have only lost once in their last 17 times. A big reason for that turnaround has been the pitching of Sarah Ropiak and on the biggest stage she made sure that trend continued.
Ropiak allowed a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first, but she would not surrender a hit for the remainder of the game. Only two players reached based, one on a walk and one on an error, but neither of those base runners reached second base. The right-handed pitcher finished with eight strike outs and one walk in the victory.
“I was just mixing mostly, just keeping them off-balanced,” Ropiak said.
Added Matthews: “You can never talk enough about [Ropiak’s] pitching.”
When Ropiak did allow a runner to reach base, her defense and her ability to make pitcher in big spot were on display. Brianna Martin scorched the second pitch of the game over the head of the left fielder and found her way on third.
Ropiak got a swinging strikeout, a lazy pop up to second and a strikeout looking to strand Martin on third. In the fourth and sixth, Ropiak let her defense, most notably catcher Lindsay Gibbs, take care of things with a runner on base.
Gibbs showcased a quick release and a very accurate arm to nab two potential would-be base runners trying to steal second base.
“I’ve been saying all year why would anyone run on Gibbs?” said Matthews. “She’s so solid back there. She calls the entire game and she’s been doing a great job.
“We kind of called something high so (the ball) was up, but Sarah pitched it perfectly and we got them both times."
The Colonials offense got a run in the top of the first after Jamay Li hit a RBI triple to plate Maddie Hatch. In the top of the fifth, the Colonials took advantage of some sloppy play by the Raiders to grab two more runs.
Nicole Geoffrion’s deep drive to center couldn’t be corralled by the centerfielder, allowing Michell Surdan to scamper home for the 2-0 lead. Geoggrion trotted home on a wild pitch to plate the third run.
The Raiders made two errors in the inning behind starter Meg Donegan, who gave up three earned runs in a complete-game loss.
“We gave probably about six outs,” said Raiders’ coach Stacy Ciccolo. “You can’t do that. This is the final of the North and you can’t do that. That opened the game for them.”