Central Catholic Raiders Softball '08

Central Catholic's Erin Swarbrick lays down sacrifice bunt in the win over Amesbury. The Raider DH bats seventh in the order but has been hitting like a clean-up hitter. She looks forward to facing Ashland's Nicole D'Argento, who may be the top pitcher in the state. » Katie McMahon, Staff Photographer

Bottom of the order lifting Central to the top

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Tuesday, June, 10 By Dave Dyer
Staff writer

There are no superstars on the Central Catholic softball team, but there are no weak links, either.

And that may be the key to the Raiders' Division 2 North title and be their best hope of knocking off powerful Ashland (26-0) tomorrow (7 p.m.) in the state semifinals in Taunton. Ashland is ranked the top team overall in Eastern Mass., although its last three tourney games have been close, including 1-0 in eight innings over Apponequet in the South finals.

Yes, the top of Central's batting order, with seniors Lindsay Martin, Chelsey Guselli and Monique Gosselin are all excellent hitters who get on base nearly half the time, but the bottom of the order has been producing as well.

 Lisa Policelli, who hit nearly .400 last year, had a huge triple against Amesbury Sunday and is as strong a No. 9 hitter as you'll find. Designated hitter Erin Swarbrick, at No. 7 in the order, had a hit, a sacrifice bunt and was on base twice.

For the season, Swarbrick is batting .384 and with her plate discipline boasts an on-base percentage of .520.

"No one really mentions Erin, but she's been on base for us a lot and had a nice season," said Central coach Stacy Ciccolo. "I think that's been one of the big things for us this year. We've gotten a boost from everyone in the lineup. It hasn't been just a few kids getting all the big hits."

Swarbrick, a junior from Methuen, is just happy to be in the lineup. After starting behind the plate for the JV team last year, she was beaten out of the starting catcher's job by senior Rachel Wyrwa. But settling in as the DH has been a positive.

"I think it's easier for me to hit (without being in the field) because you can focus on one thing," said Swarbrick. "Plus, I like batting. It's the best part of the game."

Moreover, Swarbrick seems to thrive on hitting against the best, or at least fastest, pitchers.

"I like the fast pitchers, because it's a challenge going up there against them," said Swarbrick. "And it's more rewarding when you get a hit."

The Raiders will need that kind of approach tomorrow against Ashland ace/slugger Nicole D'Argento. The returning All-Scholastic has allowed just one run in the tournament thus far and five for the season while compiling an ERA of 0.28. As of late in the regular season she was averaging 2.1 strikeouts per inning and has a 11.5/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

A junior, she is already committed to Boston College.

D'Argento highlights can be seen on youtube.com/watch?v=Oq2xmp5AgKM.

Ashland is also no slouch at the plate according to fourth-year coach Steve O'Neill, who says that his team has five batters hitting over .500 and a team batting average of .422. There are only two senior starters, one of whom is four-year starter Lindsay Shorey at shortstop.

The Clockers certainly have an impressive tradition in softball. They're coming off 20-3 and 22-3 seasons, they've made the state tournament 25 straight years and they've won two state titles.

"We feel good about our chances (tomorrow), but Central looks like a very sound team, especially defensively," said O'Neill, who was Martin Field in Lowell Sunday to scout the Division 2 North championship game.

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