PAWTUCKET — It wasn't pretty, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Still, Shea High utilized more-than-aggressive base-running and several stellar offensive performances to cruise past extremely inexperienced Central Falls, 19-9, in both squads' Division III season debut at Max Read Field on Wednesday afternoon.
The Raiders closed out the 10-run “mercy-rule” triumph with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Already up, 16-9, junior Sam Datel-Vassallo opened it with a hit to center and immediately rushed to third on an ensuing error, then scored on freshman Liliana Delacruz' double to deep left.
Delacruz hustled home on fellow frosh Katrina Horne's groundout, while senior Jenna Senecal followed with a single, took second on an obstruction call, robbed third and scored on a wild pitch to ice the contest.
Senecal, Shea's shortstop and pitcher, paced the Raiders, going 5-for-5 with five runs scored and an RBI, not to mention six stolen bases, while classmate and sister Jacelyn Senecal went 3-for-4 with a triple, three runs, two RBI and four robberies.
Fellow senior Caitlin Salisbury also chipped in, going 3-for-3 with three runs, an RBI and two stolen bags.
Between the trio, which headed mentor Mo Jackson's lineup, they finished 11-for-12 with 11 runs scored, though Shea relied on many more superb outings. Among them: Sophomore Brenda Paiz closed at 3-for-4 with a three-bagger, two RBI and two runs; freshman Lilianna Delacruz 2-for-4, two RBI and three runs; junior Sam Datel-Vassallo 2-for-4, two runs; and sophomore Carol Rodriguez 1-for-4, RBI, run.
All told, the Raiders robbed 17 bases and bashed 22 hits to begin their campaign in style.
“I thought our base-running was outstanding,” Jackson said afterward. “We practice getting around the bases and sliding all the time, and we do that because it takes us out of the force (out). They couldn't stop us. We did make one base-running error where a girl got caught past second base, but – overall – we did pretty well.
“We had five freshmen, a sophomore and three seniors start, so we're very inexperienced, but we've got some good athletes,” he added. “Hopefully, they'll come around sooner than later.”
When asked about Jenna Senecal, his captain, he just explained, “Her hitting and fielding are excellent, but she did have too many walks. We had to put her in (the circle) because Jaycee Borden had that jewelry issue (the Rhode Island Interscholastic League dictates no rings, etc., may be worn in competition).
“The thing is, if she's not pitching, we don't win; it's as simple as that. She had problems walking batters, but for someone who never pitched before, I thought she did fine. It's because she's a ballplayer and a great athlete.”
Top hitters for Central Falls included junior Nancy Hernandez (3-for-3, RBI, run); sophomore Lesley McBurney (1-for-3, double, three RBI, run); and junior Selena Martinez (1-for-4, three runs).
The Warriors nevertheless surprised Jackson's bunch early on, scoring three runs in the first. Senior hurler Megan Faria led off with a walk, then stole second and third, before Martinez reached on a miscue.
Both hustled in on McBurney's double to deep right, and Hernandez singled her to third before she scored on an infield throwing error.
Shea, however, immediately answered with three of its own. Jenna singled to center, then robbed second and third, and Salisbury plated her with a bloop hit to left. Sister Jacelyn's single scored Salisbury, and the former then stole second, third and – amazingly – home to knot it.
CF regained the lead after Faria reached on an error and scored on an outfield miscue, and Martinez singled before hustling home on Nancy Hernandez' hit to left.
The Raiders tied it once more when frosh Katrina Horne took first on a miscue, stole second and third and came in on Jenna's hit to center; the captain then did something her sister had done previously, robbed third, then the plate.
Thanks to Erika Carter's leadoff triple in the third, the Warriors took a 6-5 advantage when Karla Garcia scored her on an infield drop, but Shea notched five in the bottom half to go up, 10-6. Highlights included Delacruz's two-run single (she later came across on pitcher Faria's throwing error) and Jacelyn's RBI triple, one that plated Salisbury. (Because of Interscholastic League rules to keep “mercy-rule” victories to a minimum, no team may score more than five runs per frame, no matter the amount of outs).
CF tightened the gap with one in the fourth – and after Shea answered that run – it registered two more in the fifth on McBurney's bases-loaded walk and junior Marien Peraza's groundout. That made it 11-9.
The Pawtucketers, however, pushed the lead to seven runs with five more in the bottom half. Three of those came on Paiz' two-run single to left and Carol Rodriguez' bloop hit to right-center.
“We had 20 girls come out for the team the first day, and only five have played organized ball; all the rest had never even played Wiffle Ball,” laughed head coach Tina Plante Jancef. “We actually had to go out and buy gloves for at least two of the girls, but I'm still pleased.
“The girls' heads were up at all times, and they were positive,” she added. “They didn't let being behind bother them, and no complaints were made. For kids who had never hit before, I thought they did great. We hit the ball. We've only been outside three days (for practice) because of the weather, so we did pretty well.
“All we have to do now is clean up our defense a bit, and work on not being so hesitant on the basepaths after we hit the ball.”