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Mon, Jun 13, 2011 07:00 PM @ Neutral Location
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Final
Acton-Boxboro 1 0 0 0 2 0 1 4
Central Catholic 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Central Catholic falls in North final

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Monday, June, 13 By David Willis
Staff writer

LOWELL — Central Catholic had every reason to feel optimistic.

The Raiders’ first batter of the game, star Brianna Martin, blasted a line drive to deep left field, cruising into third with a triple.

“Brianna hit a bomb and that starting things off for us,” said Central coach Stacy Ciccolo. “I thought we were going to pick up that run. But their pitcher kind of overpowered us after that.”

Martin ended up stranded at third, and the No. 5-seed Raiders managed just one more infield single the rest of the way, falling to No. 7 Acton-Boxboro 4-0 in the Division 1 North final last night.

“We hung in there,” said Central pitcher Meg Donegan. “It really could have gone either way, but that is a great team.”

This marked the third trip to the North final for Central Catholic in the program’s 15-year history. The Raiders won the Division 2 North crown in 2002 and 2008.

“This is only the third time this program has made it this far,” said Ciccolo. “So that says something about this team. Not a lot of people expected this from us. It has been bumpy at times, but we fought through.”

Martin had both of Central’s hits. In addition to her long triple, the 2010 Eagle-Tribune All-Star also beat out an infield single after a sharp grounder to the third baseman.

She found some inspiration in her father, North Andover coach Brian Martin, who was in attendance despite battling vertigo, which forced him to miss a few games late in the regular season.

“He’s doing good,” said Brianna, looking into the stands to find her father. “He has been at every game he has ever been able to make. He always has words of wisdom for me.”

Martin also came up with three impressive snags in center field.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, they could do little against Colonials pitcher Sarah Ropiak. The junior allowed just one other baserunner, a fourth-inning walk to Brittany Hall. Catcher Lindsay Gibbs also caught two runners trying to steal second.

“She is a really good pitcher,” said Martin. “It was a real pitcher’s dual.”

The night started in tough fashion for Raiders pitched Donegan. Acton-Boxboro’s Maddie Hatch led off the game with a line drive hard off Donegan’s leg.

“She got hit by a pitch in the Concord game as well,” said Ciccolo. “I was concerned she’d be shaken up. She said she was fine, but it hit right off her shin bone. It bothered her, but she is tough.”

Donegan had to battle, throwing 126 pitches, 84 for strikes, allowed two earned runs and striking out four. Ropiak had to throw just 93 pitches.

“I was fine,” she said. “I went in with confidence trying to mix my spots and keep them off balance.”

Acton-Boxboro took control in the fifth. Leading 1-0, the Colonials scored twice thanks to a pair of errors with two outs in the inning.

“We got a little nervous and a little anxious and started making mistakes,” said Ciccolo. “In the fourth we gave them about six outs. I think some was frustration and nerves.”

The Raiders attempted to remain positive following the loss.

“I am trying not to think about this game,” said Donegan. “I am so proud of this team. It was an excellent season and I am proud of having this as my senior season.”

Game Statistics:

Acton-Boxboro (4): Maddie Hatch lf 3-1-1, Lindsay Gibbs c 4-1-1, Jamay Li ss 2-0-1, Sarah Ropiak p 4-0-1, Ashley Reuther pr 0-0-0, Stephanie Schieni 2b 4-0-0, Michelle Surdan 1b 3-1-1, Hannah Graney 3b 3-0-0, Kara O'Riley dh 3-0-0, Nicole Geoffrion cf 3-1-0, Kristen Pfister rf 0-0-0. Totals 29-4-5

Central Catholic (0): Brianna Martin cf 3-0-2, Brittney Hall 2b 2-0-0, Meg Donegan p 3-0-0, Corrine Gosselin 1b 3-0-0, Kelly Michal c 2-0-0, Karissa Forzese 3b 2-0-0, Leslie Moore lf 2-0-0, Nicole Howe rf 2-0-0, Alex Borrelli ss 2-0-0. Totals 21-0-2

RBI: AB — Li, Ropiak

WP: Ropiak; LP: Donegan

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