HAMPTON — Dennis Bruce had a feeling nothing would come easy for his third-seeded Winnacunnet of Hampton softball team against No. 14 Bedford in Wednesday’s Division I preliminary round matchup. That funny feeling for Bruce might’ve stemmed from a grinding two-run regular-season win for the Warriors a week ago that came after the Bulldogs scored four runs in the first inning.
Wednesday’s playoff meeting was different, though, as Winnacunnet scored all but one run in its 12-4 win before Bedford could get on the board.
A three-run homer by Macie Harkovich capped an eight-run fourth inning that helped push Winnacunnet to a 12-4 victory over Bedford on Wednesday in the Division I softball tournament.
The Warriors move on to Saturday’s quarterfinals, where they’ll host No. 6 Windham.
“We started a little better today and had a better approach,” Bruce said. “We were chasing some bad pitches last time. We were right on the first mistake today and hit some balls real hard.”
The Warriors recorded 13 hits and did not strike out once while producing only a handful of swinging strikes. Eight of nine players reached base at least twice for Winnacunnet as well.
It was a 3-0 edge for the Warriors prior to its fourth-inning outburst, which included six hits and a pair of walks. The dagger was Harkovich’s moonshot, which ended she provided in support of her own pitching effort.
“I was pretty surprised because I don’t really hit that many home runs and always really just look to get on base,” Harkovich said. “I was just trying to be aggressive and help the team out.”
Harkovich added three runs scored overall while Brileigh Penniman also starred for Winnacunnet with three hits, three RBIs and two runs scored. Hannah Thompson and Penelope Ayotte added a two-run single and an RBI double during the scoring frenzy in the fifth.
Bedford’s offense awoke with a two-run homer from Maddie Fraitzl in the fifth and an RBI each for Whitney Fitzgerald and Caroline Rankins in the sixth, but it was too little too late. The Bulldogs’ slow start offensively was made worse helping Winnacunnet score two of its first three runs on errors.
Winnacunnet’s scoring overshadowed good work by Harkovich and the Warriors’ defense prior to the team’s big inning. Harkovich limited the Bulldogs to four baserunners over the first four innings.
The righty scattered seven hits overall while striking two and walking one over seven innings.
With few strikeouts, Harkovich had her defense working with a variety of contact from Bedford’s bats, but the Warriors backed their ace with timely plays.
“We’ve played some decent defense here lately and it made for a good all-around game,” Bruce said. “I wasn’t expecting all of this today, knowing (Bedford) could hit. I do expect a lot of close games (going forward in the playoffs) that will come down to the wire.”