By John Anderson
At this time of year and well into the MIAA Tournaments, coaches and players know one thing for sure, Nothing can be taken for granted. Both Auburn teams are ranked in the number 3 seed and earned a bye in the first round. They both also faced tough teams in the quarterfinal. Beavers and Wolverines are tough animals out in the wild, and that carried through to the diamonds on Monday.
The boys played a solid game against Blackstone Valley with Conor Scully on the mound and went into the 7th inning with a comfortable 6-2 lead. Scully walked in one run, and a shot into the dirt by 2nd base added another 2 runs for the Beavers. The last out was made at second base after the ball was bobbled for a few seconds at short. The final score was 6-5.
In the semi-final game against Bay Path, Pat Westerlind pitched a scoreless game and only allowed 3 hits while striking out 5. The Rockets scored consistently throughout the game and took advantage of 3 errors by the Minutemen. The final score was 9-0, and Auburn will face #1 Groton-Dunstable on Saturday at Holy Cross. The time was not announced at press time.
In softball, Leicester came into town ready for a fight, and they likely gave the Rockets a little scare. Julia Handfield threw 2 strikeouts and 1 out at first in the bottom of the 1st to set the mood for the defense. When she got up to the plate, she pounded a solo homer to get Auburn’s offense established. The home team had a 7-0 lead at the top of the 5th when the Wolverines put up 3 runs that the Rockets equaled in the bottom of the inning. Leicester added 4 more runs in the 6th, but that was all they could muster. Hanna Harris caught a foul ball in left field to end the game at 10-7. This was her second such catch of the game.
Wednesday’s semifinal against Millbury may look like a one-sided game, but that is far from factual. While Julia Handfield did strike out 12 batters, the Woolie defense held Auburn to 2 scores, both in the 3rd inning. Millbury’s infield did a great job, and they will likely see good years down the road. The final was 2-0, and Auburn will face #1 Grafton on Saturday, 6:00PM at Worcester State.
After the game, Captain Jess Clifford said, “This is the first time during my high school years going to the final. I’m very excited.” Auburn hasn’t been to a final game since the mid-1980’s. Coach Kim Danish added, “We said to the kids, we’re just so grateful to spend more time with them.”
Good luck to both teams!