By MAUREEN DOHERTY
LYNNFIELD — Softball games don’t often come more exciting than this.
On Friday afternoon, down one run by a score of 5-4 in their last at-bats, the Lady Pioneers pulled off a stunning victory to prevail 6-5 over the Chieftains.
Freshman Rachel Badger opened the inning with a base hit, beating out the throw to first with her speed. The next batter popped out on a bunt and senior captain Hannah Travers drew a walk in a long at-bat to put runners on first and second.
Senior Maddie Klug stepped to the plate next and in an odd twist of fate, was awarded first base after the umpire called the ball dead due to runner interference at third.
With two outs, and still trailing by one run, assistant captain Annika Han also beat the throw to first, loading the bases for assistant captain Kelly Hosterman.
Hosterman pulled a Houdini when her fly ball to right field dropped very close to the infield and Masconomet’s right fielder and center fielder could not get to the ball because both were playing too deep. All of the baserunners took off like lightning, with Travers scoring the tying run and Klug plating the game winning walk-off run.
Lynnfield’s bench rushed to the field in the excitement of winning a championship. It was the team’s eighth victory of the season against two losses. They enthusiastically sang happy birthday to Badger, the freshman whose lead-off base hit made this rally possible.
Freshman Olivia Keane was awarded the victory while Travers was crushing the ball all day, scoring four of the team’s six runs.
Coach Peter Marinelli was thrilled with his team’s performance. “We were up 4-3, they went up 5-4 and then it was 6-5,” Marinelli said. “It was obviously a very tight game all the way through.”
“Hannah’s been outstanding for us this year,” he said of his senior captain. “She can bunt for a base hit because she’s got a lot speed. She’s actually tried to do this, fouled it off and then hit the ball over the fence. She’s a type of player who can do a lot of different things,” Marinelli said.
He was surprised when he saw Masconomet’s outfielder’s out of position on Hosterman’s fly. “I looked over and saw where they were positioned and thought ‘oh my God, they’re not going to get to it.’ I couldn’t believe how far out they both were, the right fielder and the center fielder.”
He added, “It did help that there was two outs so we could be moving on that (fly). If there was less than two outs she may not have scored because we may have had to watch it and tag up. With two outs, you’re going anyway.”
The win over Masconomet improved Marinelli’s career record against the Chieftains to 4-1 in five years. Masco competes in the large school division and Lynnfield competes in the small school division of the Cape Ann League, so they compete just once per season.
“This was a crazy game. It was who was going to give the game away. Both teams made mistakes and we both capitalized on the other team’s mistakes, and the one at the end made all the difference,” he said.
To date the team’s only losses have been to Amesbury early in the season and Pentucket by a score of 12-7 on Monday.
Vikings fall 16-4
Lynnfield crushed the Triton Vikings 16-4 on Wednesday in another league game.
“Their pitching wasn’t up to par. They’ve had pitchers in the past, but (Triton’s coach) ended up using three different pitchers and they were all having trouble throwing strikes,” Marinelli said. “So obviously we took advantage of whatever we could. We had a number of people walk and then we had some hits and drove in runs. We kept the pressure on.”
Lynnfield traveled to East Boston on Monday and Hamilton-Wenham on Tuesday (after press time). The team hosts Newburyport on Friday at 3:45 p.m. and North Reading on Saturday at 10 a.m. before heading to Rockport next Monday.