- Scott Barboza, ESPN Staff Writer
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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.
“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.