Entering the bottom of the fifth trailing, 4-3, Jill McElroy told her Reading softball team "this is the time right now. Somebody’s got to step up. Somebody’s got to be a leader out there. Our pitchers are keeping us in the game we need to pick them up.”
Seniors Meg Kelly and Jen Toussaint heard the message loud and clear. The duo knocked back-to-back home runs to first tie the game and then give the Rockets (18-3) the lead for good, as Reading defeated Pentucket, 6-4, Thursday afternoon in the first round of the Division 2 North sectionals.
“It was amazing,” McElroy said. “Meg [Kelly] hit the ball out to dead center and that in itself was a great boost for us to get the game tied.
“Then Jen [Toussaint] gets up and somebody in the stands yelled, ‘back-to-back!’, and I’m thinking, ‘are you kidding me?’ But next thing you know, Jen hits the ball farther than I’ve ever seen a high schooler hit it, and I’ve been around for awhile. It was just awesome.”
Nicole Cafazzo started in the circle for Reading, but couldn’t make it out of the third inning. The senior left after surrendering six hits and four runs.
Junior Sammy Gabriella came on to toss five scores innings of three-hit ball to pick up the win.
“When [Gabriella’s] come in, she’s done pretty well,” said McElroy. “When we put her in it’s usually in a tough relief situation and she’s been good for us like that all season.”
The Rockets were able to add an insurance run in the sixth when Tara Zerfas led off the inning with a single, stole second, took third on a fielders choice and eventually stole home as part of a double-steal.
Julianne Meehan ended up the tough-luck loser for the Sachems (10-8). Meehan went the distance, striking out three and scattering (best she could) 10 hits.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ZuriBerry for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Alex Hall | @AlexKHall | Baseball
- Colleen Casey | @ColleenCasey226 | Softball
- Mike Giesta | Boys lacrosse
- Catherine Calsolaro | @catrenee13 | Girls lacrosse
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Boys volleyball
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