WORCESTER, Mass. - Last year, Grafton High School fell to Leicester High in the district finals 1-0 to end their softball season. This year the matchup was the same, but the outcome could not have been any different. The Indians scored early and often Saturday to exact revenge on their foe from a year ago, defeating the Wolverines 16-1.
In a game that many figured to be a low-scoring pitching duel, Grafton chased Leicester starting pitcher Lauren Tuiskula in the third inning.
“At the end of the year, they just started getting nice and loose and enjoying it and not taking it as a pressure packed situation and its been fun,” said Grafton Head Coach John Gemme. “They are doing it at the right time.”
“Right from the start we were thinking hit! hit! hit! and I think coming off of the Hudson game so strong and hitting so well it just reflected on this game and we just hit,” said Grafton Pitcher Kendal Roy, who scored five times in the contest.
Grafton defeated Hudson High School in the semi-finals with a barrage of offense late and a walk off hit, which may have given them momentum going into Saturday’s game.
“We were very excited coming off of that win,” said Roy. “Then we knew we could play anyone. Hudson is a great team and Leicester is a great team and we definitely needed to play well and we knew it.”
Roy, who had some struggles in the previous game returned to championship form allowing just a single run on the afternoon. Roy admitted that familiarity with Leicester, having faced them three times over the past two seasons, was an advantage of sorts.
“We played them in the regular season and we have always had great games against Leicester,” said Roy. “I almost know those girls so well and what they can and can’t hit because I have played them so much so that was definitely an advantage to know where to throw it.”
As a team, Grafton was firing offensively on all cylinders, but no batter had quite as good a day as third baseman Tara Faford, who went 5-5 with a double and a triple on the afternoon scoring five times as well.
“I already knew that the pitcher was going to try and throw outside so I kind of just prepared myself for that and tried to stay as relaxed as I could and just went up there feeling confident,” said Faford.
As for Leicester, the Wolverines entered the season with a target on their backs being the reigning Central Champions. Despite the loss Saturday, Head Coach Dave Stanick is proud of the way his team handled the added pressure of being the one team everyone had circled on their schedules this season.
“It’s been a great season for us, we were defending district champs and a lot of people said we were lucky to win it last year and here we are today back here again,” said Stanick. “We didn’t have things go our way today but it has been a great season, a lot of kids stepped up and did a nice job in a lot of different areas for us and we’re gonna miss our seniors a lot for sure next year but we will get back at it next season.”
Grafton moves on to play the Western Mass. District Champion Hampshire High School at Worcester state Tuesday night with the time to be determined.