By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING — The varsity softball team won its 11th game of the year and qualified for the MIAA state tournament last Wednesday by beating Masconomet, 11–7, before the Hornets’ hometown crowd at the Little School field. The team then built on that big win by beating Medford (twice) and Malden in their next three games. The girls have now won eight out of their last nine games. Their record is 14–4 going into a Tuesday showdown vs. Reading.
Hornets 11, Masco 7
North Reading pounded out 13 hits and got strong pitching performances from Kendra Butner and Julia Perrone in the victory. Butner went the first four innings and got credit for the win, throwing 48 pitches, 70 percent for strikes. Perrone pitched the final three frames, throwing 68 pitches, 62 percent for strikes.
North Reading jumped out to a 5 to 1 lead after two innings but Masco came roaring back with six runs in the top of the third to take a 7 to 5 lead. The Hornets responded by going back to work, scoring six total runs in the next three innings to lead, 11 to 7, at the end of the fifth inning. Hornet pitching shut down Masco in the final four frames and the fact that the Chieftains committed five errors in the game didn’t help their cause, either.
Tara Driver hit a Hornet home run and Butner and Carly Swartz contributed doubles. Butner (2), Driver, (2), Perrone, (2), Swartz, Sophie Warren, Kelsey DeMild, Bryanne Riley, Taylor Connor, Sarah Sabella and Cassidy Gaeta, (2), all had quality at bats. The Hornets left five runners on base.
North Reading 12, Malden 4
North Reading got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and led 4-0 after the fourth and never looked back in this one. The girls added a run in the sixth and three more in the seventh, while pitcher Kendra Butner kept the Golden Tornadoes off the scoreboard until the fourth inning, when they finally pushed one run across. Malden succeeded in scoring three times in the bottom of the seventh but by then it was too little, too late and North Reading won, going away.
Hornet bats pounded out 12 hits on the day, including home runs by Cassidy Gaeta and Tara Driver. Gaeta and Julia Perrone also slammed doubles. RBI were contributed by Butner, Bryanne Riley, Carly Swartz, Sarah Sabella, Gaeta (2), Perrone (2) and Driver (2). Butner was in control on the mound all day, throwing only 78 pitches, 49 for strikes.
North Reading 5, Medford 3
Saturday morning’s contest against the Medford Mustangs was a much closer affair. But here too, North Reading jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, forcing Medford to play from behind all day. The Hornets added a run in the fifth inning while Butner shut out Medford until the fourth, when they finally scored once. Medford added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings but Butner had them under control the rest of the way.
North Reading’s eight hits included doubles by Sophie Warren and Carly Swartz, with RBI from Warren (2) and Tara Driver. Forty-four percent of all Hornet trips to the plate were quality at bats from Butner, (2), Warren, (2), Kelsey DeMild, (2), Swartz, (2), Sarah Sabella, (2), Julia Perrone, (2) and Tara Driver. Butner threw 95 pitches in this one, 63 for strikes.
North Reading 3, Medford 1
Monday’s win over Medford was a nail–biting, come from behind, extra–inning affair that saw North Reading score in the top of the sixth to tie the Mustangs, 1–1. After both teams were scoreless in the seventh inning, the Lady Hornets scored twice in the top of the eighth and pitcher Kendra Butner shut out the Mustangs in the bottom of the frame to secure the win.
Butner also helped the Hornets cause from the batter’s box, driving in two of North Reading’s runs. The hard–throwing senior threw 81 pitches, 65 percent for strikes. Butner, (2), Sophie Warren, (2), Bryanne Riley, Carly Swartz, (3), with a sacrifice, Taylor Connor, Sarah Sabella, Cassidy Gaeta, Tara Driver.