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BRISTOL, Conn. â€” Jocelyn Bodington delivered one of the finest outings of her young softball career, Alex Pina knocked in five runs to lead a potent attack at the plate, and the Cumberland All-Stars made their presence felt in a very big way on Friday afternoon in the Eastern Regional tournament.
The three-time Major Division state champions kicked off their New England pool play by parlaying Bodingtonâ€™s dominant pitching and an 11-hit assault into an 11-1 win over Charlton, Mass. that went all six innings at Breen Field on the Bart Giamatti Complex.
â€śThis was an importance piece,â€ť Cumberland manager Chris Bodington said of the victory, which raised his teamâ€™s postseason record to 10-0. â€śWe wanted to come out and really get going in our first game, and I think this game was crucial in getting some momentum for the rest of our games coming up.â€ť
Cumberland, which has now outscored its opposition by a stunning 121-19 margin, rallied big in the third, fourth, and sixth innings in an afternoon loaded with positives. But the biggest boost of the contest came from Bodington, the lone holdover from last seasonâ€™s Cumberland team that reached the semifinals of the Eastern Regionals.
On a day with temperatures hovering in the mid-90s, the hard-throwing 12-year-old southpaw supplied some more heat with a masterful outing that saw her wind up with a splendid one-hitter, strike out 16 of the 22 batters she faced (including 11 straight at one point and the side in order in the first, third, fourth, and fifth innings), and allow two walks and an unearned run.
Bodington also quietly flirted with a no-bit bid for five innings, but in the sixth, the first batter she faced, Isabell Boria, softly lined a 3-2 offering on the outer half of the plate over the head of second baseman Cassidy Carr and into right field for a single.
When did Bodington know she was zeroing in on a no-hitter?
â€śProbably around the fifth inning,â€ť she said. â€śI was hoping for (the no-hitter), but it was a good hit and we couldnâ€™t make a play on it. I was a little upset, but Iâ€™m happy we won. I think weâ€™re pretty confident now, just getting that boost of energy knowing that we can win.â€ť
â€śShe did what she always does,â€ť the Cumberland manager (and proud father) said of his pitcher. â€śEven in the hot weather today, she came in and stayed cool, calm, and collected. She did well, and Iâ€™m very proud of her.â€ť
Offensively, Cumberland carried its hot hitting from the District IV and state tournaments into Fridayâ€™s opener by collecting 11 hits and receiving a big game from its cleanup batter, Pina, who went 3-for-3 with her high RBI total, scored three times, and stole three bases. Leadoff batter Abby Goncalves also went 2-for-4.
â€śThis goes back to how the girls have been successful all season,â€ť said the Cumberland manager. â€śTheir bats come alive. They know how to hit the ball, and I think thatâ€™s going to help us get deeper into this tournament.â€ť
Surprisingly, Charlton took a 1-0 lead off Bodington in the bottom of the second on a throwing error that came after Hailey Dephia led off with a walk and raced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Carly Snyder. The miscue came on a pickoff attempt after Snyder was erased for the first out, and when the throw sailed into left-center field, Dephia was able to tour the bases and score.
Cumberland, meanwhile, was able to get a runner as far as second base with two outs in its first two trips to the plate, but came away with nothing. But in the top of the third, the locals finally broke through with its first rally off Charlton pitcher Cayley Fagan.
After the top of the order, Goncalves and Renae Lacroix, led off with singles, Bodington moved the runners into scoring position with a grounder to the right side of the infield.
With Charltonâ€™s infield playing on the edge of the grass, Pina followed with a two-run double â€“ a blistering shot that ricocheted off the leg of shortstop Carly Snyder and sailed toward the left-field line.
Pina then swiped third with a delayed steal and easily scored on a grounder by Hailey Ballou that was thrown high off the bag for an error.
In the fourth, Cumberland added to its lead on a fielderâ€™s choice grounder by Dana Jackvony that drove in Alea Coyle, who led off with a bunt single that died on the infield grass and went to third on back-to-back wild pitches.
Coyle actually scored on a very close play at home. Third baseman Anna Bagley fielded Jackvonyâ€™s grounder and fired a strike to the plate, but Coyle managed to slide under the tag of catcher Devan Weatherbee.
The rally continued when a groundout and Charltonâ€™s third error of the game put runners in scoring position with two gone for Pina, who plated Jackvony and Lacroix with a sharp base hit up the middle and just out of the reach of second baseman Amber Boraccini.
After Pina stole second, she came home on a line double by Ballou into the gap in left-center field to make it a 7-1 game.
In the fifth, Snyder made quick work of Cumberland, but in the final frame, the locals tacked on four more runs on a two-run single from Chloe Kessler that was sandwiched around RBI singles by Pina and Kaitlyn Dâ€™Abrosca.
Cumberland will get today off from pool play before returning to Breen Field on Sunday for a 2 p.m. game against the Mount Abraham Little League All-Stars of New Haven, Vt. Another day off on Monday will be followed by another early game on Tuesday, this one an 11 a.m. affair against Scarborough, Maine.
â€śThe girls are going to relax tomorrow,â€ť said the Cumberland manager. â€śTheyâ€™re going to hang out with some of the other teams and just chill out. We will practice a little -- we have an hour of fielding and an hour of batting cages, so weâ€™ll utilize that, even on a day off.â€ť
Follow Eric Benevides on Twitter @EricBen24.