Methuen Rangers Softball '19

Fri, Jun 14, 2019 07:30 PM @ Lowell
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Final
Methuen 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Lowell 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

McCoy lifts Rangers in semifinals

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LOWELL — Jillian McCoy flashed the kind of wide, bright smile that any dentist would love Friday night.

The Methuen junior certainly had plenty of reasons to smile after the Rangers (19-4) knocked off top-seed Lowell, 1-0, in the Division 1 North semifinals at Martin Field. Methuen will now face Acton-Boxboro in Saturday's 2 p.m. final.

Of all the reasons for that smile, one stood out for McCoy.

"It feels so good because they beat us before," said McCoy. "I really wanted to get back at them."

And she certainly did that, turning the tables on the Red Raiders, who had beaten Methuen by the same 1-0 score back in April.

But if revenge is sweet, McCoy could have been smiling for at least two other reasons. First, she pitched the Rangers past the No. 1 seed in the North tournament and into the finals for the second straight year and, second, she clearly outdueled Lowell's freshman ace, Giana LaCedra, who was recently named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year.

While LaCedra was certainly effective, allowing five hits, while striking out five, McCoy was that much better, spinning a nifty 2-hitter while striking out six. She only faced 23 batters, just two over the minimum.

"I knew I had to have a good game because they (Lowell) have gotten better hitting since we faced them before," said McCoy. "I knew I had to work harder and be more precise."

As far as Methuen coach Jason Smith was concerned, McCoy couldn't have been much better.

"Jill has just gotten stronger and stronger during the season and she was great tonight," said Smith. "I knew it would be a game like this and she just really came through."

McCoy not only had Lowell's hitters off balance and guessing, but she also received an errorless defensive performance from her teammates. Right fielder Kerri Horan made five putouts and second baseman Claudia Crowe made a nice juggling catch in the outfield in the bottom of the seventh.

The Rangers scored the only run they would need in the fourth when speedy Steph Tardugno led off by smashing a ball off LaCedra's glove that the second baseman grabbed and threw to first. On a close play that was ruled an error, Lowell's first baseman stretched and pulled her foot ever so slightly off the bag.

Crowe bunted Tardugno to second and the speedy sophomore then stole third and scored when Nyah Mazzone grounded out to second.

The Rangers had a chance to get an insurance run in the sixth but Horan, who had two bunt singles, was thrown out attempting to steal one batter before Tardugno ripped a double. And, in the top of the seventh, Dana Littlefield led off with a double but could get no further than third.

"I felt we had to be aggressive on the basepaths and I don't regret anything we did tonight," said Smith. "I thought we made good contact the whole game. That's what we wanted to do."

As far as facing Acton-Boxoro (22-1) in just a little over 24 hours, Smith said: "I think it'll be another game like this. We don't have much turnaround time, but that's all right. These girls could go seven more innings right now."

Game Statistics:

Division 1 North Semifinal

Methuen (1): Tardugnocf 3-1-1, Crowe 2b 2-0-0, Mazzone ss 3-0-0, Littlefield dp 3-0-2, Spina pr 0-0-0, Rizzo 1b 2-0-0, McAlpine 3b 3-0-0, McCoy p 3-0-0, Allbee lf 2-0-0, Horan rf 2-0-2, Belanger c 0-0-0. Totals 23-1-5

Lowell (0): LaCedra p 2-0-0, Yrrizarry c 3-0-1, Ly 1b 3-0-0, M.McPhee 3-0-1, Russell pr 0-0-0, E. McPhee 2b 3-0-0, Panagiotopoulos cf 2-0-0, Soucy 3b 2-0-0, Greene ss 2-0-0, Heslin lf 2-0-0. Totals 22-0-2 

RBI: Mazzone

WP: McCoy; LP: LaCedra

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