But, as has been the case all season for the Bombardiers, there seems to be one trouble inning and on Wednesday afternoon against Franklin it turned out to be the seventh.
The Panthers scored five runs in their final at-bat, on just two hits, to break open the game and pull away for an 8-1 victory. Junior catcher Clara DeCarvalho led the way for the visitors, going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI.
“She’s in her element right now,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon about DeCarvalho, who spent two seasons on JV waiting for a chance and with the graduation of Bri Flaherty (who is now at UMass Dartmouth) she got it. DeCarvalho has seven RBI in two games for the Panthers.
“You can tell she’s just worked really hard in the off-season to get better, like there’s an opening and I’m taking it,” Fallon added. “She did everything she needed to and she’s continuing to do it. She’s just key for us right now.”
DeCarvalho created the opening run of the game in the top of the second, although with a little bit of help. Her flyball to deep right was dropped allowing her to get into second. Courtesy runner Kerry Blaney scampered home on a single by Kim Moulton (2-for-3, walk).
The Panthers made it 2-0 in the third, again with the assistance of Attleboro’s defense. Rachel Cousineau reached on a bunt single down the third base line and then stole second. Freshman Allie Shea bounced one to third but Cousineau drew a throw at second and then turned and took third. Meanwhile Shea drifted off of first and drew a rundown that allowed Cousineau to score.
“You’ve got to support your pitcher and we’re not doing that right now,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “Granted we had three of our starters out today but…we’ve just got to work hard and move forward. It’s frustrating because you know you’re better than you’re playing.”
The score remained 2-0 until the sixth when DeCarvalho led off with a shot to right that dropped in for a triple. Blaney again came in as the courtesy runner and scored on a wild pitch for a key insurance run.
The Bombardiers would put a runner on base in all but two innings, but senior pitcher Caroline D’Aprile limited Attleboro’s chances. It was not until the sixth that the Bombardiers were able to get someone beyond first. D’Aprile finished with seven strikeouts, allowed three hits, and walked two.
Fallon said, “She’s come into her own. She gets settled in and just does her thing…Defensively, we’re just on. It’s what we work on all the time.”
The Bombardiers gave themselves hope in the sixth inning. With one out, Olivia Kass drew a walk and stole second on a pitch in the dirt. After Julia Woyton bounced back to D’Aprile, freshman pitcher McKenzie Bergdoll (2-for-3) doubled down the right field line to bring in the run.
Bergdoll had allowed only five hits and two earned runs in the first six innings but things started to fall apart in the seventh. An infield hit started the inning and then Cousineau bounced to third but Vanessa Dancer could not get the lead runner. Maddie Connelly also hit it down the third base line but Olivia Haba was able to beat the play to third.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Bergdoll walked Shea to force in a run and followed that by hitting Olivia DiGiacomo for another. DeCarvalho followed with a single into right that plated two more. A Makayla Vasquez wild pitch allowed DiGiacomo score to make it 8-1.
Homer credited his freshman pitcher for battling through six innings and called on his defense to step up, even without three starters due to injuries, and help whoever is in the circle.
“She’s pitched in all three of our games and done a great job,” he said. We’re getting the pitching; I’m not concerned about that. We’re not getting the hitting like I thought and you saw in the final inning – three ground balls…we’ve got to mop that up.”
He added, “When that team is together we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win games people don’t expect us to win…It’s about putting a full game together.”
The Panthers are feeling good after a pair of wins to begin the season and Fallon was all smiles after the game.
“Just a great team win,” she said. “Two in row where everybody contributed, everybody did the small things. It’s a great group.”
“I’m happy, they’re happy.”
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.