By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – With a chance at seizing the Central Connecticut Conference Southern Blue division title outright, the softball squad from Bristol Eastern wasted little time in its crosstown battle against Bristol Central – dropping the Rams by a 15-0 final in a mercy ruled five inning challenge from the softball field on King Street on Tuesday, May 23.
The Lancers (17-2) took the Blue championship behind another team effort, allowing pesky Central just two overall hits in the contest over another outstanding defensive showing.
Eastern chucker Erin Girard was sharp from start to finish, wrapping up a five-inning gem that included nine strikeouts and no walks, going to distance to move to 17-1 on the campaign.
On the flip side, Central’s Kenzie Lewis hung in to the end but had to tangle with a very potent Eastern line-up that blasted out 18 total hits.
Lewis, who filled in admirably at pitcher since getting the call midway through the season, walked three and gave up 11 earned runs in the losing effort.
Offensively, Peyton Greger went 1-for-2 in the showdown while Sarah Strilkauskas was also 1-for-2 with a bunt single for the Rams.
Other than those two hits, it was all Eastern at the plate.
Six different players for the Lancers had multi-hit games while centerfielder Makenzie Jankowski was a perfect 4-of-4 with a triple, two RBI, and four runs scored.
Taylor Keegan added three hits in four tries while also scoring three runs and nabbing an RBI.
Mikayla Martin chipped in with two hits (two doubles), three RBI and a walk while teammate Nicole D’Amato etched up two hits, two RBI and a base-on-balls.
Paige McLaughlin was 2-of-3 with an RBI and a run scored; Lexie Mastroianni went 2-of-3 with two runs scored; Girard helped her cause at the plate by going 1-of-3 with a double, a run, and an RBI; Lauren Aparo zipped up a hit and a walk; and Jordan Fitzsimons added a hit, a run scored and an RBI to complete a busy afternoon of offensive action.
After Central went quietly to open the game, Keegan and Jankowski set the table early in the first with consecutive base hits and when D’Amato’s fly to center was mishandled, both runners scored to make it a 2-0 contest.
That was followed by RBI tallies from Girard and McLaughlin and quickly, Eastern led 4-0 after just one completed frame.
The Rams went down in order in the second inning and with the Lancers at the plate again, the home team smashed open the showdown and around the line-up.
The score-fest led to six runs, on multiple hits, and a 10-0 cushion through two stanzas.
In the top of the third, Girard fanned the final two batters she squared off against – retiring nine straight – before Martin doubled for the second consecutive time as Jankowski came home to score to make it an 11-0 push through three.
But in the top of the fourth, Central made its move to get on the scoreboard.
Jenna Ptak reached base via error, Peyton unleashed her hit and when Strilkauskas bunted aboard safely, the bases were juiced.
But two Girard strikeouts later, the shutout remained intact as Eastern continued to lead it by 11.
The Lancers nearly batted around in the bottom of the fourth – which included D’Amato’s two-RBI single as the featured hit of the frame – and quickly, Eastern led 15-0 as the Rams were down to its final three outs.
The ball never left the infield in the fifth and, coupled with one final Girard K, Eastern had the CCC South Blue Division title in hand and a 15-0 victory over Central.
The Rams ended the season with a 6-14 record .
NOTES…The Lancers will finish the regular season with their best record since 2008 when that squad ended the year undefeated at 20-0 but lost in the second round of the Class L to Sacred Heart Academy (1-0) off a first-round bye…It was Senior Day for Bristol Eastern as Mikayla Martin, Nicole D’Amato, Jillian Maghini, Lexie Mastroianni, and Makenzie Jankowski along with Bristol Central’s Sarah Strilkauskas were all honored before the game.