By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING — The season came to an abrupt end for the NRHS varsity softball team last Wednesday, as the third–seeded Lady Hornets fell victim to a first round upset at the hands of Gloucester, 3–1, in eight innings.
This was a a nail–biting pitchers’ duel that had the crowd at the Little School field on the edge of their seats all the way. Each team scored in the first inning – Taylor Connor crossed the plate for the Hornets – but after that it was an even duel with both pitchers shutting down the opposing offense the rest of the way.
In her final game for the Green and Gold, senior Kendra Butner went the distance for the Hornets, baffling Gloucester batters until the eighth. Butner threw 101 pitches, including 72 for strikes and threw first pitch strikes to 31 batters.
Unfortunately for North Reading, Butner’s efforts were matched by the Fisherman pitcher Karina Keenan, who was a complete mystery to Hornet batters after the first inning, shutting down the offense on only four hits.
Butner, Connor, Cassidy Gaeta and Sarah Sabella all managed hits off Keenan but overall the team had only 34 percent quality at bats. The Hornets left four runners on base and committed two errors. Junior Carly Swartz had a successful sacrifice and sophomore Julia Perrone was hit by a pitch.
Losing to the 14th seeded Fisherman had to be a major disappointment for the Hornets, who lost eight players to graduation, including Butner. Other seniors who played their last game were Kellie Sovak, Monica Ferrazzani, Bryanne Riley, Sophia Warren, Jill Trischitta, Amanda Catania and Kelsey DeMild.
But the Hornets will also return a strong nucleus of underclassmen in 2016 and will be heard from again in the Cape Ann League and the Division 2 North tournament.