Hagopian fans six in 5 inning no-hitter

NORA HAGOPIAN threw a no-hitter to help the Warriors win their first game played in two years yesterday at Vets Field. The senior struck out six through five innings. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Published in the May 7, 2021 edition.


WAKEFIELD — It was only fitting that a two-year wait should be ended by a beautiful day at the lake.

The Wakefield High softball team, forced to play their first game since 2019 back at their old home of Vets Field yesterday due to poor conditions at Blatz Field, got a no-hitter from senior Nora Hagopian and exploded for 12 runs on nine hits in the 5th inning to earn a 12-0 mercy rule victory over Watertown during a perfectly sunny, mid-60’s spring day.

“It was a great feeling to get back out there,” said head coach Chris Tolios. “Leading up to this game was some of the most nervous energy I’ve had coaching just because of the two-year layoff but to be honest, once we were out there and the game started, it’s like we never left. Even a few of the players came up to me to mention how weird it was that it felt so normal to be there.”

Led by a senior class who hadn’t played a softball game since their sophomore years – many of whom playing in their first varsity game, the Warriors combined great defense with lights out pitching and a strong offense.

Hagopian allowed no hits and struck out six in five innings. She was one dropped strike away from a perfect game as Watertown’s only baserunner reached after a strikeout pitch found the backstop in the 5th.

“It was really good to see someone like Nora start off the season like that for us – she is a senior who has put in a ton of work over her four years here and as a coach you love when you see that dedication and commitment paying off,” said Tolios. “She did what she had to do by throwing consistent strikes, changing up speeds and trusting the fielding behind her.”

The Warrior infield was especially steady with senior Hailey Burke at third, senior captain Bella Zullo at second, junior Claire Donahue at shortstop and junior Allida Kelliher at first base. 

After shaking off some cobwebs at the plate, the bats broke out to emphatically snap a scoreless game in the 5th. The 12 runs were highlighted by a 3-run homer by sophomore Paige Butland who scored two runs in the inning. 

“I think you’ll be hearing a lot of Paige’s name for the next couple of years with her only being a sophomore,” said Tolios. “She’s a special player and the ball just jumps off her bat. She hit a home run in our scrimmage last week too so that is definitely something we can get used to. It’s not easy to do that in your first varsity softball game so a lot of credit needs to be given.”

Tolios was also quick to shout out batters in the middle of the Warrior order, Donahue and Burke, Wakefield’s left side of the infield. 

Donahue (1-for-4) hit a two-RBI triple in the 5th to extend the lead to 11-0. Burke (2-for-4) had two hits and two RBI’s in the inning. Her first was a blooper to the outfield that scored Zullo and her second was an infield single that scored Donahue and ended the game. 

“Hailey Burke and Claire Donahue were two players who in their first varsity softball game gave us great production,” said Tolios. “Both of them were perfect in the field (6-for-6 combined on putouts) with Claire at SS and Hailey at 3B and offensively, Hailey had two hits with 2 RBI while Claire added 2 RBI herself.”

Butland led off the 5th with a walk. In hopes of breaking the stalemate, Tolios had Zullo bunt in the next at-bat. She placed it perfectly in the grass and beat the throw to first for a hit. Butland went to third on the play and Zullo stole second with Kelliher (2-for-3) at the dish. A walk loaded the bases for Bella D’Ambrosio (2-for-4) who dropped an RBI single over an infield who was playing in for the first run. Burke later followed with her RBI knock which kept the bases loaded for Sam Doyle-Day who earned an RBI the hard way with a hit-by-pitch to make it 3-0.

Two wild pitches scored Burke and pinch runner Emma Johnsen to make it 5-0. Emma Patch walked setting up Charlotte Rossicone who roped an RBI single to push the lead to six.

That brought up Butland with two on. Although the Warriors were putting the ball in the play, the Raider outfielders weren’t too busy with most of the hits coming through the infield. That changed when Butland crushed one to deep left field. Sure, it had been two years, but the Warrior bench knew from contact that a homer was in play as they cheered Butland around the bags, the speedy leadoff hitter scoring easily for the 3-run dinger. 

Zullo and Kelliher started the rally back up with singles before Donahue and Burke finished it.

In the end, it was certainly a memorable way to return to the diamond. The two teams will have a rematch today in Watertown at 4:30 p.m.

“It was a good game, good afternoon and hopefully gives us a good kick start of momentum that we can carry through the season,” said Tolios.