THE WAKEFIELD High softball team clinched a share of the Middlesex League Freedom Division title with a 4-1 win over Wilmington on May 17. It’s the first league title for the Warriors since 1982. (Courtesy Photo)

WILMINGTON — The year 1982 was getting lonely at the Charbonneau Field House. That’s the year the Wakefield High softball team last won a Middlesex League title. 

Now, 2024 will be joining the banner in Wakefield’s gym after the Warriors clinched a share of the Freedom Division crown with a 4-1 win over Wilmington on May 17, creating a three-way tie between the Warriors, Wildcats and Burlington. 

“Clinching a share of the title means a lot,” said head coach Chris Tolios. “Every season on day one in March, I bring all the girls into the field house and point up to the banner with the sole year of 1982 for softball. I make it our first program goal every season because if you can get that, the rest likely falls into place. 

“I know the league championships don’t mean as much as they used to, but I have an old school mindset where winning that brings a lot of pride and it’s an accomplishment that will hang in your field house forever. I’m really glad the girls are able to experience that and now will always be able to look up and remember this team that was the first to do it in 42 years.”

With high stakes at Aprile Field in Wilmington — a Wildcat win would give them the outright title — it was Wakefield’s Kathryn Sliski who took control, earning the complete-game victory in the circle.  

“It all started with Kathryn who has found her groove,” said Tolios. “She pitched a great game and we were able to make big plays behind her led by Nicole Dowd (2B) and Kathleen Gmelch (SS). It’s great to see those veterans step up and secure wins for us when they mean the most.”

Once Wakefield got the offense going enough to take the lead, Sliski and sharp defense took it from there. 

“Our bats weren’t blazing but we came away with timely hits and were able to move runners around with small ball and sac flys, just enough to get the job done,” said the coach. “If you want to be a team that competes in June, those are the little things you need to take care of which we were able to do.”

The Warriors will now focus on that type of June softball as they get ready for the Div. 2 state tournament. They concluded their season on Wednesday with a 2-0 loss to North Andover following a 6-2 loss to Andover on Monday. Wakefield’s overall record concluded at 9-11 but their decision to schedule against higher division teams like they played this week will only help their D2 rank while preparing them to play the best the state has to offer. 

“I think this team is capable of more than they realize,” said Tolios. “The 9 wins could have easily been close to 15 as we lost 5 games by 1 run, most of which we surrendered a lead and I can point to one or two plays that caused it. We are continuing to stress about playing every inning and every pitch like the game is on the line, because the way our season has gone, it kind of is. 

“We’re all on the same page and I’m excited to see these girls compete in the playoffs – hopefully the power rankings allow us that opportunity. It’s a really good group and I wouldn’t trade them for anyone. I would take them against anyone, anytime.”

Despite falling just short of a .500 record to automatically qualify, Wakefield’s accolades this season will be more than enough to earn them a spot in the tourney. The Warriors were ranked 20th in the latest D2 power rankings that were released this week. The top 32 ranked teams automatically qualify. Brackets will be released on Wednesday and the tournament will start a week from today. 

Wakefield will have more chances to make some memories this season but for now, they can celebrate an accomplishment that will be remembered forever. 

“The only downside now, which I was joking with one of the captains Meredith Morris about, is that I need to find a new opening day speech for next spring,” said Tolios. “Maybe I’ll say we need to win it outright for them to get me to stop talking.”