CENTRAL FALLS --- Softball games between second-place and fourth-place teams that are separated by a game in the standings are usually close, competitive battles.
Monday afternoonâ€™s Division III game between Central Falls and Shea was an exception.
The Warriors pounded out 14 hits and took advantage of an usually-high 11 errors by the Raiders on their way to a surprising 15-0 victory at Macomber Stadium that was stopped after 4Â˝ innings by the mercy rule.
The win was the seventh in a row for the second-place Warriors, who are 7-1 and take on first-place Central (8-0) this afternoon in Providence. The Warriors dropped a 9-6 verdict to the Knights in their season opener on April 6, but hope to even the score today.
â€śIt came down to the last inning,â€ť C.F. coach Barbara Duffy recalled of that first meeting. â€śCentral scored four runs in the top of the seventh to beat us. But I see a very good game tomorrow, a very competitive one. And todayâ€™s game was huge because of tomorrow. We needed to play a good team to get ready (for it).â€ť
Unfortunately for the Raiders, who came into the contest with four straight wins and a 5-2 mark (that put them percentage points behind third-place Block Island in the standings), they didnâ€™t resemble a good team.
Not only did they commit a season-high in errors that led to 10 unearned runs, but they also managed a season-low two hits off Warrior ace pitcher Solyris Vega, who struck out four batters, walked none, and allowed three batted balls to reach the outfield.
â€śWe had a meltdown,â€ť said Shea coach Mo Jackson, whose team suffered a 17-10 loss to the Warriors earlier in the season. â€śIt was very disappointing. The girls just werenâ€™t into it and C.F. wanted it more than we did. Itâ€™s just as simple as that.â€ť
â€śI was surprised it was 15-0,â€ť added Duffy. â€śBut our girls played well all the way around. From our hitting to our fielding, it was just solid. We bunted, we ran, we did everything.â€ť
The Warriors, who entered the week averaging a division-best 17.9 runs per game, once again received strong contributions from the top four batters in their potent attack â€“ Vega, center fielder Kayla Camara, shortstop Melanie Velez, and catcher Holly Webb.
Vega went 3-for-4 with a double, two-run triple, and four runs scored, and Camara was 3-for-3 with three runs scored and as many runs batted in to lead the lineup. Velez had two hits and as many RBIs, and Webb singled, doubled, scored twice, and drove in three runs.
â€śThese kids can hit,â€ť said Duffy. â€śWeâ€™re solid all the way down our lineup. They can hit, and I want them to swing the bat, and thatâ€™s why weâ€™ve scored as many runs as we have.â€ť
The Warriors did all the scoring they needed to do in the home half of the first by plating their first run on a throwing error and their next two on an unusual safety squeeze bunt by Shariela Jiminez.
With Camara on third and Webb on second, Jiminez dropped a bunt down the third-base line that brought in Camara with ease. Jiminez was out on the throw to first, but when the first baseman (unaware that Webb advanced to third) lobbed the ball back to the mound, Webb broke for the plate and scored on a close play.
The next inning was a nightmarish one for the Raiders. The Warriors marched 12 batters to the plate and parlayed just five hits with eight errors by the Raiders to score eight runs and take an 11-0 command.
Velez delivered a line single to center to drive in two runs and give C.F. a 6-0 lead, and Webb followed with a two-run hustle double to center that was also good for two RBIs.
The Raiders, who received their hits from shortstop Erika Reyes and center field Catarina Coelho, donâ€™t play again until next Monday when they host Hope at Max Read Field.
Shea 000 00â€”0-2-11
Central Falls 382 3xâ€”15-14-3
Courtney Fenton and Jenna Senecal; Solyris Vega and Holly Webb. 2B â€“ Holly Webb (CF), Solyris Vega (CF). 3B â€“ Solyris Vega (CF).