Boston High School: Sophie Perez



LOWELL, Mass. – Revere had already accomplished something by the first inning of Wednesday night’s Division 1 Eastern Mass. softball final that no other team had this postseason. The Patriots put up a run on Bridgewater-Raynham starter Sarah Dawson, after a streak of 28 consecutive scoreless playoff innings.

While the upstart Patriots came out swinging against the South champion Trojans, they were unable to sustain the momentum, as B-R busted out in a three-run third in a 3-1 to advance to Saturday’s state championship game against Central champion Holy Name.

“I had a thought that, ‘Oh, there’s the one,’ and I wasn’t letting up any more,” Dawson said.

The junior University of Pittsburgh commit settled down after surrendering her first and only run of the playoffs to date. Dawson, who threw a no-hitter in Monday’s South sectional final against North Attleborough, allowed just two base runners past the first innings. She finished with nine strikeouts on the game, while recording five of the final six outs of the game by punch out.

Revere starter Sabrina Palermo kept the Trojans off balance in the early going as well, facing just two batters over the minimum entering the fourth.

That’s when some timely hitting and opportunistic base-running paid off for B-R.

“We probably should have waited a little bit more – [we were] a little impatient,” Trojans catcher Emily Kurkul said her team’s approach at the plate. “We were going a little too quick. The second time through we were much more determined to stay back and look at pitches to get hits.”

Kurkul, who leads the state with 12 home runs on the season, boosted her slugging percentage further with a lead-off double in the fourth – B-R’s second hit off Palermo. The Trojans would then load the bases with walks by Jenny Heller and Stephanie Cavallaro.

Sophie Perez tied the score with a sacrifice fly to center, allowing courtesy runner Taylor Poulin (in Kurkul’s proxy) to score easily.

That’s when the inning took a turn. With two outs and a 1-2 count on Trojans first baseman Holly Greet, Palermo threw a wild pitch. Heller came down the line and slid into home, but the throw from the backstop went back into the infield, allowing Cavallaro to score all the way from second as well.

The run support was all Dawson would need as she closed the door on the Patriots, finishing the game by striking out the side in the seventh.

Revere scored its first-inning run with a two-out rally. Catcher Juliana Cecere singled before Kristina Stella doubled her home with a gap shot to left-center field.

It’s not how you start that counts: Although the Trojans found themselves in an unfamiliar position playing catch up, there was an awful lot of game to go.

“At that point, we’re not going into any kind of panic mode,” B-R coach Mike Carrozza said.

A big part of the reason why the Trojans weren’t about to worry was their ace. Although Dawson proved mortal in allowing her first postseason run, she wasn’t about to let the game slip away either.

“She was reaching back and she knows that she wants the game,” Carrozza said. “She knew that she was going to have to reach back a little bit and we started using the changeup a lot more in the third inning, just so they realized it was there.”

The changeup was the key component of Dawson’s arsenal on Wedesday, and B-R’s brain trust, with Kurkul behind the plate, sought to make sure the Patriots didn’t have the same kinds of swing the second time through the lineup.

“It’s a big part of the game – keeping them off balance,” Kurkul said. “You can’t just throw fastballs all the time, they’re going to hit you.”

Dawson’s changeup also came with a secondary benefit – seemingly adding velocity to an already plus-fastball. It proved an effective combination.

“I was able to spot it, put it in the dirt a couple of times,” Dawson said. “It made them swing, get them off-speed, get them off-balance.”

D1 South softball: B-R 5, D-R 4

June, 2, 2013
6/02/13
3:15
PM ET


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.”

SHORT-LIVED CELEBRATION
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.

TOUGH EXIT
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 EMass softball: Malden 5, B-R 4 (9 inn.)

June, 13, 2012
6/13/12
1:05
AM ET
LOWELL, Mass. -- The role of hero is one Melissa Light doesn’t seem to mind playing for the Malden High softball team.

After providing a walk-off single on Monday that gave the Golden Tornadoes their first ever Div. 1 North Sectional championship, Light delivered a game-winning hit again on Tuesday in Malden’s EMass. Final game against South Sectional champ Bridgewater-Raynham.

“She had struggled the last couple games, but last night and tonight she really came through,” said Golden Tornadoes coach John Furlong. “Last thing I said to her last night was ‘make sure you touch first base when you hit this ball,’ so I said it to her again tonight. We started laughing, but she ended up hitting the ball hard and we got the run.”

Light’s infield single, which bounced off pitcher Audrey Dolloff, knocked in Emily Moran in the bottom of the ninth at Martin Field in Lowell, propelling the Golden Tornadoes to a comeback win over the Trojans, 5-4, and sending them on to Saturday’s state title game.

“In the last game, I knocked in the winning run so this was just as exciting as that one,” Light said. “Before that though, I’ve never done anything like this. It’s something I’m always going to remember and keep with me. It’s not just me, though, it’s everybody. Without everyone doing all the little things there’s no way we win this game.”

The first team in school history to play for a state title, they’ll play Central Sectional champ Milford -- who cruised past Agawam, 13-0, in the other semifinal game -- at Worcester State at 7 p.m.

The walk-off single capped off a 3-for-3 day for the Golden Tornadoes nine hitter. Trailing 4-0, she got their offense rolling in the bottom of the sixth, leading off with a triple deep to right center field.

Emily Hoffman drew a one-out walk and Hannah Caberone (2-for-4) singled to left, scoring Light.

Malden starting pitcher Kiarra Amos struck out, and B-R looked like they might get out of it when Dolloff went to 0-2 with two outs on Jessalyne Brown. Brown, however, bounced a ball up the middle that Rachel McCall was able to knock down, but wasn’t able to record an out.

Emily Furlong, the seventh hitter of the inning, smashed a double deep toward left centerfield, and all three runners came around to score, tying the game at four.

Early on, it looked as though the Trojans would be the ones squaring off against Milford on Saturday as their 4-0 lead through five innings looked like it would be more than enough for Dolloff.

Before the sixth inning rally, Dolloff had surrendered just three hits and only Erika Hanson had reached scoring position.

The Trojans, who finish at 21-4, scored twice before Dolloff even stepped into the pitcher’s circle.

McCall drew a one-out walk and Chelsea Correia followed with a single to left. Dolloff grounded out to second but the other two advanced into scoring position.

Alyssa McKinnon delivered a two-RBI single up the middle.

McKinnon set the Trojans up to score their third run when she led off the top of fourth with a wall-ball triple to centerfield. Sophie Perez brought her home one pitch later with a sacrifice fly to left.

In the fifth, Madi Shaw (2-for-4) started the inning with a lead-off double for B-R and was followed by a McCall single.

Correia lifted a fly ball into left field that scored Shaw, giving the Trojans their 4-0 lead.

Amos settled in after that, allowing just two hits the rest of the way.

“The first inning, I obviously panicked because I gave up two quick runs and I thought it might be a rough game for me,” Amos said. “I’ve learned to pick myself up and just keep doing what I have to do. Even when they scored the two more runs, I knew I just had to keep going.”

OLD HABITS DIE HARD
The extra-inning affair marked the fourth straight for Bridgewater-Raynham in the tourney.

They found themselves on the other side of one-run games in their South Sectional quarterfinals win over Mansfield, semifinals win over North Attleborough and their finals win over defending state champ King Philip.

Unfortunately for them, it was only a matter of time before a close call didn’t end in their favor.

“When I first saw it, I said ‘here we go again,’” said Trojans coach Mike Carrozza. “It was kind of comical in a way but we’ve played and had to come back in all of those games. Sooner or later it’s tough on the girls.”

Tuesday proved to be the day it got tough on his girls, who weren’t able to get Dolloff in after she reached third base in the top of the eighth.

AS GOOD AS ANYONE
Without production from the back half of their batting order, the Golden Tornadoes may have never mounted their come-from-behind effort against the Trojans.

“My one through four [hitters], I’ll take with any other team but my five through nine is better than anybody out there,” Furlong said. “If you look at the production tonight, you see our RBI came from our five through nine.”

The Nos. 5-9 hitters combined to knock in four of the five runs in the win. They also scored two of them, while accounting for nine of Malden’s 12 hits.

"It just carries through the rest of the lineup. The kids at the top see it and they starting hitting, too."

SPONSORED HEADLINES