PLAINVILLE – If the Bristol Eastern softball team ever got its offense to peak at critical times in games, the Lancers could be a dangerous team to handle on a consistent basis.
But timely hits have not been on Eastern’s collective slate this season and that has certainly cost the squad some winnable games.
Eastern’s 3-2 loss to Plainville from Alumni Field on Monday, May 13 certainly underscored that very fact.
In the fifth, sixth, and seventh frames, all Eastern (8-8) needed to do was slam out one hit to flip a couple runners across to tie the game or even seize the lead.
But once again, the Lancers didn’t get that game-winning hit as Eastern fell by a run.
“It eludes us,” said Eastern coach Scott Redman of the team’s ability to generate timely hits. “I can’t explain it, I can’t. We get opportunities, we get girls to set the table. It’s really difficult, I don’t know if we’re buckling down or what but we just can’t deliver that timely hit.”
Plainville – who won its eighth game of the season to qualify for the state tournament – beat Eastern for the first time since joining the CCC South and seemingly tallied a critical hit when needed.
The Blue Devils’ four-five hitters of Katy Dressel and Rachel Lancaster were a combined 4-of-6 to go along with two runs scored and three RBI.
In fact, it was Lancaster’s two-RBI triple in the bottom of the third frame to turn a tie game into a 3-1 affair in Plainville’s favor.
“Plainville delivered enough timely hits to do the job,” said Redman. “Neither team hit the ball all over the place today. The pitching was good today on both sides. Plainville didn’t crush the ball all over the place but they delivered a couple more timely hits than we did.”
Eastern racked up six hits in the game as Sarah Beliveau went a blazing 3-of-4 including a third inning home run.
Erica Ciccio blazed out two triples for Eastern but did not score either time as the Blue Devils .
Then there was Plainvlle’s excellent defense as the home team snuffed more than a couple hits out with some timely putouts.
That included an amazing catch by Plainville right fielder Shayla Beausoleil who somehow tracked down a fly ball hit by Kelsey Porter as Eastern ended the contest with the tying run on third and the go-ahead tally on second.
It seemed to be the theme of the game for Eastern. It was close but no cigar for the visiting squad and that was thanks, in part, to that outstanding defense
“Plainville played very well defensively,” said Redman. “That kept them in the game and they did what they had to do. They bent a lot but they didn’t break. Somebody (seemingly) stepped up with a big play multiple times to get them out of a jam or to take away a big hit.”
(I) definitely tip my cap to them…they played well today.”
Beliveau absorbed a tough loss, giving up three runs off six hits while whiffing four batters.
In the fourth, Jenifer Tabacoo came in and was a necessary change of pace, yielding just one hit in three strong innings and totally snuffed out the home team.
For Plainville, Lancaster was in control from the start and picked up her biggest victory of her career.
She went the distance, gave up the six hits, and walked four but showed poise and guile in the winning effort.
In the bottom of the first, Dressel smashed a hit to centerfield as her RBI tally made it a 1-0 contest in Plainville’s favor.
The Lancers snatched that run back in the third off Beliveau’s home run blast to right-center field to knot the score at 1-1.
But in the bottom of the stanza, Lancaster’s two-run double turned the tide of the game.
Danielle Angelillo reach via a base hit but she was out at second off Cheyenne Dalke’s fielder’s choice.
From there, Dressel slammed a ball into left and Lancaster cleared the bases with her triple to give Plainville its two-run cushion.
In the fifth, Eastern got one back as Beliveau dropped in an infield hit and scored off an RBI triple by Ciccio to right-centerfield to make it a 3-2 contest after five.
With the game on the line in the seventh frame, Eastern made one last stab at it.
Beliveau started the rally with a single to center but with two outs, it would be up to Cheyenne Orsi to keep the drive alive.
Orsi drilled a grounder to Lancaster on the mound but she threw the ball away.
Quickly, Orsi reached second off the gaffe while Beliveau ended up at third and two runners were in scoring position.
But Beausoleil ended the game with her phenomenal catch as Plainville qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 2010.
“We try to get better every day,” said Redman. “We’ve been saying that since day one. It’s frustrating because the girls are working hard and when you lose a lot of games like this, the frustration starts to build a little bit and they start to press at the plate. It’s difficult to hit when you’re pressing.”