Central Catholic Raiders Softball '08

Tue, Jun 03, 2008 07:00 PM @ Central Catholic
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Final
Playoff Game Division 2 North - Semifinals
Arlington Catholic 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Central Catholic 0 1 4 1 0 0 0 6
Carl Russo, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Timing is everything for streaking Central

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Wednesday, June, 04 By Chuck Frye
Staff writer

 It's the perfect time for Central Catholic to be playing perfect softball.

Whether from brilliant pitching by Liz Habib, stellar defense or an offense both smart and powerful, the sixth-seeded Raiders did it all in blanking No. 3 Arlington Catholic, 6-0, at mosquito-infested Martin Field.

The victory sets up a Division 2 North final of Cinderella squads Saturday in Lowell (time TBA). After victories over second-seed Tewksbury and now the Cougars, Central (17-6) will take on Amesbury (17-6). The Indians, a No. 8 seed, took out No. 5 Stoneham, 8-0, yesterday after ousting top seed Concord-Carlisle in a nine-inning quarterfinal thriller.

In the 12-year history of the program, this is only the second time the Raiders have made it this far. The 2002 team made the state semifinals. To equal or surpass that season, they'll have to get past Amesbury.

"The last time we played (Amesbury) was in the North quarterfinals four years ago and they beat us," said Raider head coach Stacy Ciccolo, who has guided her squad into the Division 2 tournament each of her five years.

If last night's performance is any indication, a veteran Central squad has the right temperament to handle the pressure of a title game, the first under Ciccolo's tenure. The evidence is convincing:

n Facing a plate umpire calling an unusually wide strike zone (albeit for both teams), the Raiders stayed disciplined and pounded out 11 hits including six in a four-run third inning. Leadoff hitter Lindsay Martin (3 for 3 with a walk) and No. 2 hitter Chelsey Guselli had back-to-back opposite field triples to start the parade, Monique Gosselin added a run-scoring single to right centerfield and lefty Carla Borrelli later poked an RBI double to left center.

"(Arlington Catholic pitcher Kelly Reardon) threw a lot of outside pitches | really outside, and had a good drop ball going," Gosselin explained. "We had to crowd the plate, be really patient, see the pitch to the last second and take it where it was pitched."

n Central also showed it could manufacture offense in the fourth inning when, with Martin on third base, Gosselin drew a walk and kept running toward second. Caught in an intentional rundown, Gosselin not only allowed Martin to score without a throw but got back to first base safely.

n Habib truly scattered six hits in the win, giving up consecutive hits only once all game and not allowing a Cougar runner past second base.

"We had to work the count hard and work to spots," said catcher Rachel Wyrwa, who deftly had Habib pounding the entire strike zone.

"We were happy to have a big strike zone but it hurt us, too," said Habib. "I just didn't want to give them perfect strikes."

n Defense cemented Habib's fine work. After its offensive explosion in the third inning, Central further seized momentum in the bottom of the inning. Third baseman Guselli easily backhanded Kaitlyn Leddy's one-hop rocket and Gosselin made a lunging grab at short. Gosselin also robbed AC of a hit in the fourth.

"Since last year, I worked on going to my left and right and attacking the ball," Gosselin explained. "I worked with my dad, and my coaches hit balls that I couldn't come anywhere close to and made me get them. It was a year-round effort between Central, N.H. Elite (her summer team) and dad."

"We do have a great defense," Ciccolo said. "Our infield is outstanding and the outfield is one of the best in the state."

"Everyone's contributing, no matter who," added Martin. "The offense 1-9 just did it and the defense has been great. We've given up no runs yet."

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