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CUMBERLAND â€” The softball seasons have passed and the names have come and gone, but one thing you could always count on year after year any time Lincoln and Cumberland played each other was a spirited, competitive duel -- a showdown that was usually going to be decided by one or two runs.
Thatâ€™s what the small gathering of fans that braved the chilly weather at Wednesday afternoonâ€™s Division I-North affair at Tucker Field expected from the two unbeaten rivals, but what they got was a shocking surprise.
The Lions pounded out 13 hits, three of them home runs, and received a masterful two-hitter from junior ace pitcher Lindsay Mayer that paved the way for a stunning 11-0 victory that was halted after six innings by the mercy rule.
â€śI definitely donâ€™t think anyone expected a mercy (rule game),â€ť noted Lincoln assistant coach Kelly Ryan, â€śbecause Cumberland has a good program and itâ€™s always been a battle between these two teams. But the girls really came out fired up today and they really wanted this one.â€ť
Ryan, who was a two-time All-State player and a 2008 graduate of Mount St. Charles, ran the show for the winners after her father, first-year head coach Richard Ryan, was ejected after the top of the fourth inning after one of his players missed third base on what would have been a two-run homer by freshman Adriana Toro and was called out on an appeal play by the Clippers.
And speaking of Toro, the right fielder had the finest game of her young career by going 4-for-4 from the No. 2 spot in the lineup with three runs scored and a three-run homer in the sixth that gave the Lions a double-digit command.
Another standout freshman, second baseman Stacy Mayer, also drove in three runs by smacking a two-run homer in the top of the third to give the Lions a 6-0 command and adding a run-scoring double in the sixth for the gameâ€™s last run.
And of course, there was Stacyâ€™s older sister, Lindsay, who not only chilled the Clippers on the mound, recording 10 punchouts and two walks, but went 2-for-3 with a roundtripper of her own leading off the fifth.
â€śItâ€™s definitely great to see the younger kids stepping up and taking over,â€ť remarked Ryan, â€śand of course, you have Lindsay, and she really had a great game.â€ť
While Mayer and the Lions had a great game, the defending champion Clippers didnâ€™t, and the lopsided setback was clearly a disappointing one for Cumberland coach Marty Crowley.
â€śI canâ€™t remember the last time we got 10-runned,â€ť he noted. â€śWe got beat in all three phases of the game, and thatâ€™s the bottom line. They outhit us, they played better defense than us, and (Cumberland pitcher) Juliet (Nelson) didnâ€™t have her best day. Lindsay pitched a very good game for them. She moved the ball around, she spotted the ball, and it took us a while to get going against her.â€ť
The Lions scored all the runs they needed in their opening swings, when with one out, consecutive singles by Toro, Lindsay Mayer, and Emily Bouthillette gave them a quick 2-0 lead.
In the third, bunt hits by Emma Hart (two hits, two runs scored) and Toro paved the way for a four-run rally that saw Hart score on a wild pitch and Lindsay Mayer knock in Toro with a sacrifice fly to center. After an outfield miscue allowed Bouthillette to reach base, Stacy Mayer belted her homer into the gap in left-center.
The Clippers caught a break in the fourth when Toro hit what would have been an opposite-field, two-out, two-run homer to left, but instead, resulted in a very long base hit when the runner in front of her failed to touch third while rounding the bag.
But in the fifth, the Lions added to their lead on the longest of their three home runs, Lindsay Mayerâ€™s rocket to the gap in left-center that reached the fence (reserved for the Cumberland menâ€™s softball league) on two bounces.
And in the sixth, Lincoln put the game away, when with one out, a base hit by Casie Beauchemin and Cumberlandâ€™s third error of the game led up to Toroâ€™s home run, which was a carbon-copy line shot of the blast she delivered two innings earlier.
The Lions scored their final run on a walk to Bouthillette that was followed by Stacy Mayerâ€™s double to right-center.
The Clippersâ€™ best chance to score came in the fourth when a leadoff line single to left by Alexis Descoteaux, a walk to Nelson, and a fielderâ€™s choice grounder by Caylin Legare loaded the bases with one gone. But Mayer wiggled off the hook by striking out the next batter she faced and getting the third out on a tapper back to the mound.
While the Lions were obviously thrilled with their win, the Clippers had a tough time digesting the loss, but Crowley vowed that his team will turn the page on it and focus on their next game at Barrington on Saturday morning.
â€śThis is in the rearview mirror and we just have to be ready for our next game,â€ť he noted. â€śThatâ€™s all you can do this early in the season. Itâ€™s our fourth game and we still have a lot of things we have to work on.â€ť