WOONSOCKET â€” On Monday afternoon at Slater Park, Tolman High mustered only one hit in a 3-0, extra-inning loss to defending Rhode Island Division I champion Lincoln.
Naturally, that was a point of contention for head coach Craig Giarrusso, who in practice has been working with his girls to produce more at the plate.
It showed, and then some, in a Division I showdown with Woonsocket on Wednesday afternoon. The Tigers bashed 14 hits, 11 of them in the final three frames, to post an easier-than-anticipated 8-0 victory at Cold Spring Parkâ€™s Baldelli Field.
Sophomore Cristen Chiaverini, hitting eighth in the order, finished 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored, while senior Ashley Clark went 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs, sophomore Megan Klemanchuck 2-for-4 with a run and freshman Kaylee Molina-Vaz 2-for-3 with an RBI.
And senior Ashley Hessler not only poked two hits, one a three-bagger, and scored once, but also played magnificently at third; she not only made three nice snags of foul balls near her own third-base dugout, but also earned three assists.
â€śOffense has been an issue for us since the season started,â€ť Giarrusso stated after his clubâ€™s first win of the season (Tolman is now 1-2). â€śIn this one, we hit the ball a little better than all of this year, but theyâ€™re still not hitting the way theyâ€™re capable â€“ or to my satisfaction.
â€śWe had 14 hits, OK, but we didnâ€™t have the key hits with people on base,â€ť he added. â€śWe didnâ€™t have them begin to come together until the fifth (inning). We left a lot of girls on because we didnâ€™t execute.â€ť
He nevertheless couldnâ€™t have been happier with the mound presence of senior righty Olivia Larson, who scattered just five hits, two walks and a pair of hit batsmen around a trio of strikeouts.
â€śSheâ€™s been pitching great,â€ť he noted. â€śThis is absolutely the best Iâ€™ve seen her throw in four years. I think itâ€™s just because she works hard. She takes her pitching seriously; if she gets behind (in the count), she doesnâ€™t get frazzled.
â€śYou know, she was the key to us being in the game against Lincoln. I mean, she held them scoreless through seven, and she kept us in it.â€ť
It appeared the Tigers would score at least once in the top of the first inning; with one out, Hessler knocked a single to left, then stole second and took third on a wild pitch.
Clark followed with a walk, and sophomore Megan Klemanchuck attempted to plate Hessler with a suicide-squeeze bunt, though sophomore righthander Amanda Nunez made a stellar play with the glove and fired to first.
Molina-Vaz then ripped a grounder to sophomore shortstop Tayla Sevigny, who made an outstanding toss to first to squelch the possible rally.
The Villa Novans (0-3) didnâ€™t come up with a real threat until the back half of the fourth. With one down, senior Amanda Alexion walked, and frosh Brittany Girard whacked a ground single to center. Both moved up on sophomore Emily Brunettiâ€™s sacrifice bunt, and Larson hit Varsana Schobel to load the bags.
The hurler got out of the jam when she fanned No. 9 batter and sophomore Dacia MacNeil.
Giarrussoâ€™s crew started the fifth with Chiaveriniâ€™s opposite-field double over the head of right fielder Schobel, and senior Brittany Bilodeau sacrifice-bunted her to third. Sophomore Leiandra Wilson grounded to short for the second out, but it did plate Chiaverini.
Thatâ€™s when the floodgates opened. Hessler pounded a triple to center, then scored on an errant relay throw. Incredibly, Clark did the same thing but to left. (No, they werenâ€™t dingers).
Both Megan Klemanchuck and Molina-Vaz followed with singles, but the catcher Girard tagged out Klemanchuck attempting to score on what wouldâ€™ve been another off-target relay.
Woonsocket squandered sophomore Taylor Pawlinaâ€™s one-out hit up the middle in the fifth, and the Tigers responded with another run in the sixth. Senior Jordyn Klemanchuck poked a hit to center, hustled to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on Chiaveriniâ€™s first single and scored when Girardâ€™s throw to third sailed into shallow left.
Down 4-0, Alexion gave the Novans hope with a leadoff two-bagger in the bottom half, though nothing came of it, and Tolman rallied for four more in the seventh.Clark singled and took second on a miscue, and Megan Klemanchuck reached on an infield error. Molina-Vaz stroked a hit to left, plating Clark and moving Megan to third, before senior pinch-hitter Shelby Hofknechtâ€™s single to left scored her.
Molina-Vazâ€™s pinch-runner, Miranda Echeverria, was thrown out at the plate, but senior Crystal Ritcey (Hofknechtâ€™s pinch-runner) and Jordyn Klemanchuck both raced home on Chiaveriniâ€™s opposite-field hit to right.
In the bottom of the seventh, senior pinch-batter Paige Houle earned a walk, though Larson capped her stellar outing with a groundout and two pop flies to center fielder Clark.
â€śI thought Amanda pitched very well, just like she did against Westerly (in a 6-5, extra-inning loss on Monday),â€ť mentioned Novansâ€™ mentor Dan Belisle. â€śShe only gave one earned run, and she gave up four today.
â€śThere were just too many errors,â€ť he added of the quartet committed, all in the last three frames. â€śWe played well defensively, especially early on, but then they came in bunches. We were right there through four, playing them even, but we didnâ€™t hit the ball that well. Still, I can live with that.
â€śI thought we let down (emotionally) in the seventh inning especially, and that was after playing hard and tough for six. Itâ€™s my job to make sure that doesnâ€™t happen again. I thought they were just kind of pouting out there.
â€śI couldâ€™ve lived with a 3-0 or 4-0 loss, especially with those back-to-back triples, but I canâ€™t with the seventh-inning attitude. Thatâ€™s got to change.â€ť