Central's Lavallee limits Londonderry
MANCHESTER - Manchester Central's Sarah Lavallee used a screwball and the defensive support of three double plays to shut down Londonderry, 3-1, on Friday at Padden Field.
Though leery about facing a Londonderry batting order featuring seven hitters with batting averages topping .400, Lavallee held the Lancers to four hits and a lone seventh-inning run by relying on her pitching instincts and team support.
'I knew I had to be on the top of my game against these guys,' said Lavallee after Central improved to 7-2, while dropping the Lancers to 6-1. 'I worked the entire strike zone so I wouldn't be predictable and then I had my screwball working.'
Lavallee had batters leaning to reach outside pitches and then jammed them with an inside screwball. She also excelled in the clutch. Four of the sophomore's six strikeouts occurred with two outs and a runner in scoring position.
Tough luck Londonderry starter Sam Corey pitched effectively, striking out 15 Central batters. The senior ace got Little Green hitters to swing and miss on 23 occasions, chasing a rising fastball or an outside curveball.
'Sarah pitched a great game, overshadowing Sam's fine job,' said Londonderry coach Wayne MacDougall. 'They had two chances to score and did just that. We didn't take advantage of the few scoring chances we had.'
Corey struck out the side in the first inning, but hit Celina Therrien with her first offering in the second inning. Two throwing errors on Sam Desaulniers' bunt advanced runners to second and third. Both trotted home on Lindsay Hampson's first-pitch double to center.
Central's made it 3-0 in the fifth. Kim Leiter singled, swiped second and scored when Lavallee singled an 0-2 pitch to right.
Central's defense helped stymie Londonderry's comeback bid. The Lancers led off the fourth by putting runners at second and third. Desaulniers caught a soft liner at first and doubled the runner off third. In the sixth, right fielder Therrien made a running catch of Jess Reynolds' liner and doubled a runner off first.
Londonderry's bats looked like they were coming to life in the seventh. Corey singled. Kelsey Enright doubled to left, putting runners on second and third with no outs.
'My heart was pounding hard in the last inning. I was hoping these kids could pull it off,' said Central coach Joshua Borge.
With one out, Sirena Puiva hit a RBI sacrifice fly to right. Enright tagged and slid into third. When the throw got past the third baseman, MacDougall sent Enright home. She was thrown out, ending the game on Central's third double play of the game. 'As soon as I sent her I thought, that's stupid, her run meant nothing,' said MacDougall.