MANCHESTER — Hitting was contagious for the Merrimack High School softball team Wednesday. Especially in the third inning.
After a two-out error opened the door, Merrimack collected five consecutive base hits against Manchester Central pitcher Sarah Lavallee in the third. No. 11 Merrimack scored four runs in the inning en route to a 6-2 upset victory over sixth-seeded Central in the Division I tournament’s preliminary round.
“I’m not surprised because we’ve spent the last two weeks really working on hitting in practice,” Merrimack coach Jim Peltak said. “Most of these girls know Sarah and some of them play with Sarah in the summer, so they got up for the game. I think they did a nice job laying off her riseball, fighting them off when they were close and then getting a ball that they could drive into the gaps.”
Merrimack had 10 hits against Lavallee, who will pitch for Southern New Hampshire University next season. Center fielder Brittany Camara had three of the 10 hits. The Tomahawks also received two-hit games from left fielder Renee LeClaire and third baseman Anjelica Gonzalez. LeClaire and catcher Ashley Grassini each drove in two runs.
Merrimack (11-8) led 4-1 after three innings, and added a run in the fifth and one in the seventh. Central (12-7) scored a run in the first and one in the sixth.
“Sarah has been solid for us all year,” Central coach Josh Borges said. “Merrimack came and they were ready to play. Anybody is beatable on any day.”
Lavallee drove in both Central runs. Shortstop Kim Leiter scored from second on Lavallee’s double in the first inning, and Kindred St. Germain doubled and ended up scoring from third on Lavallee’s groundout in the sixth. Allie Jacques had Central’s only other hit against Merrimack junior Caitlin Minear, who struck out four and didn’t walk a batter.
Lavallee and Leiter are the only seniors on Central’s roster.
Merrimack’s No. 11 seeding could be a bit misleading, since the Tomahawks suffered three of their eight losses when the team was missing three starters during April vacation.
“Our record could have been a lot different than what it was,” Peltak said. “I don’t really think of us as an 11 seed. I think of us as one of the top teams in the division.”
Anna Strong struck out nine batters over seven innings to lead second-ranked Goffstown past No. 15 seed Oyster River of Durham 11-2 in the preliminary round of the Division II softball tournament in Goffstown Wednesday.
Goffstown’s offense was led by junior Nicole Nanof who hit a two-run homer to center field. Goffstown will host John Stark in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Bedford 8, Timberlane 4: At Plaistow, Kelly Woodmansee pitched a complete game, had two hits and scored three runs as the No. 13 Bulldogs upset last year’s Division I champion. Bedford’s Shanna Scribner collected three hits, and Kelsey Murphy had two hits and two RBIs. Jill Saltzman and Kayleigh Bohan each had a two-run double in a five-run fifth inning.
Exeter 3, Pinkerton 2: At Derry, the ninth-seeded Blue Hawks scored a run in the top of the eighth to prevail in this Division I tournament preliminary-round game. Natalie Bruno had two hits for Exeter, which will face top-seeded Spaulding in the quarterfinals. Natalie Fabrizio, Rachel Byrd and Kelly Fitzsimmons each had two hits for the ninth-seeded Red Raiders.
Salem 10, Nashua North 2: At Salem, third baseman Ashley Conway and catcher Brittany Wallace each had three hits as second-seeded Salem breezed past No. 15 North in the Division I preliminary round. Conway had four RBIs, and Wallace drove in two. Salem will face seventh-seeded Concord in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Junior Katie Dawson pitched six innings to collect the win. She struck out four and allowed a run on two hits.
Alvirne 4, Bishop Guertin 3: At Nashua, the 12th-seeded Broncos received home runs from Sara Siteman and Kaycee Carbone and upset No. 5 BG in the Division I preliminary round.
Windham 12, Hollis/Brookline 6: Ashley Sky led the Cavaliers with a two-run homer in the fifth inning. The Jaguars’ Rachel Vafides responded with a two-run inside-the-park-homer in the sixth inning. Windham was also led by Cailyn Coasta (two singles), Michaela Hatem (two singles), Emily Comtois (three singles, two RBIs), Rachel Rogers (two singles), Alyssa Upton (two doubles, two RBIs), and Christina Steere (two singles, triple, three RBIs). The Cavaliers’ Sarah Buchanan (single, double) and Sky (single, home run, two RBIs) had multiple hits.