At long last, Abington earns its crown
TAUNTON - For a softball program with numerous South Shore League titles and a plethora of tournament appearances, one prize has eluded Abington - a Division 2 South sectional title. But thanks to a 3-1 win over Fairhaven at Jack Tripp Field Sunday, there will be a new trophy to be displayed and a new banner for the gymnasium.
“I’ve told them all year, it’s their time, and today was their day,’’ said Abington coach Ernie Ortega. “I’m just lucky to have the best seat in the house for it.’’
Having played Saturday, Abington came out sluggish and Fairhaven took advantage. Senior Kayli Moniz doubled to lead off the game, and the Green Wave defense kicked away a pair of routine plays that allowed Moniz to score.
The Blue Devils kept the pressure on in the second, putting runners at first and third with one out. But ace Kelly Norton got the most important of her six strikeouts for the second out and Haley Rogers threw out Kacie Carvalho stealing second to end the threat.
“That was a huge,’’ said Norton. “It was a great throw and lifted everyone’s spirits.’’
Senior Liz Morgan doubled to left-center in the home half of the second and scored when Alicia Reid reached on an error.
The Green Wave took the lead for good in the third, using small ball and some luck.
After Mackenzie Gillis dropped a perfect drag bunt to reach, senior Jill Marella followed with a bunt of her own. Fairhaven fielded it cleanly but threw it away into deep right field allowing Gillis to score easily. Marella was motoring around the bases herself, and when the relay throw was bobbled she was able to slide home safely.
“I didn’t slow her down, I wanted her to go all the way,’’ said Ortega. “Small ball came up bigger than I ever expected, to end up with a round-tripper is amazing.’’
That was all the support Norton would need. After laboring through the first two innings, she cruised, retiring 15 of her last 16. Fairhaven was able to put the ball in play, but the Green Wave defense was flawless after some early jitters.
“The girls are used to having the strikeouts, but once they settled down they made every play behind her,’’ said Ortega.