CUMBERLAND --- An undefeated team, one of the state’s best pitchers, and some chilly weather were unable to cool off red-hot Cumberland High on Tuesday afternoon.
The Clippers used a four-run rally in the bottom of the second inning and a strong outing from ace pitcher Bethany Paul to knock Chariho High from the unbeaten ranks and grab a 7-2 triumph in their Division I crossover showdown at Tucker Field.
The Chargers came into the game with a 9-0 mark that saw them outscore their opponents by a 71-22 margin, but bused out of Cumberland with a one-sided loss.
“You keep reading the papers and you see that zero (in the loss column) growing bigger and bigger,” said Cumberland coach Marty Crowley. “(Chariho coach) Dave (Petrocelli) does a good job with his kids and his program. They’re a formidable foe year in and year out. This is a big win, but every win in this division is a big win.”
The victory was the fifth in a row for the surging Clippers, who are 8-3 and playing some of their finest softball as of late, especially at the plate, where they totaled 40 runs and 47 hits in their last four games.
Against the Chargers and ace pitcher Rebecca Williams, the Clippers pounded out 10 hits and were fueled by the bottom three batters of their lineup, Samantha Bertherman, Kelsey Cahill, and Kayleigh Martins.
Bertheman went 3-for-3 with a pair of runs scored, Cahill contributed a key two-out, two-run single in the fifth to give the Clippers a five-run cushion, and Martins also had a pair of hits.
“Top to bottom, we hit again,” said Crowley. “We’re getting contributions up and down our lineup. In order to succeed, you need more than one or two kids, and that’s one thing we like about this team. They’re family, and they’re playing together and playing well.”
While the Clippers were busy hitting, Paul was delivering on the mound. She limited the hard-hitting Chargers to seven hits, struck out five batters, and yielded no walks or earned runs.
After the Clippers provided their ace with a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a pair of throwing errors by their visitors that allowed Bridget Connors to score, they went to work on their second-inning uprising.
With one out, Bertherman laced a single up the middle and sprinted to third on a sacrifice bunt by Cahill that was dropped at first base for an error.
Martins then grounded a base hit up the middle to drive in Bertheman and send Cahill to third, and after Connors walked to load the bases, Krissy Peffer made it a 3-0 contest by bringing home Cahill with a sacrifice fly to left.
Paul then helped her cause by crushing a double deep into the gap in right-center to score Martins and Connors with ease.
Down by five, the Chargers did their best to get back into the ballgame in the third. They loaded the bases with no one out, but after the Clippers picked up two big outs on a 1-2-3 double player, Michelle Mowbray hammered a two-run triple to deep right.
The game remained a three-run affair until the Clippers got those runs back in the fifth on Cahill’s clutch opposite-field, run-scoring single to left that knocked in Kaitlyn Pluta and Bertherman.
“Earlier in the year, we didn’t hit with runners in scoring position,” added Crowley, “but today we did, and that’s been a bright spot for us in our last five games.”
The Clippers will vie for their sixth straight win on Thursday when they host Barrington High in a 3:45 p.m. crossover affair.