PAWTUCKET – Sydney Duclos and Gemma D’Orazio represent the young guard on this year’s St. Raphael softball team.
Through their actions with the bat on Monday night, both announced that they aren’t waiting for future seasons to leave an imprint. They’re ready right now.
A sophomore, Duclos went 3-for-4 with one RBI and one run. A freshman, D’Orazio drove in a pair – one coming on a deep drive to left field for an inside-the-park home run. Both were key linchpins in the offensive cog as No. 1 seed SRA eliminated No. 6 Cumberland, 6-2, in a win-or-go-home Division I playoff game on Monday night.
“We knew we needed to win,” said Duclos, who factored as part of St. Raphael’s three-run first inning after Cumberland jumped out to a 1-0 lead. “We were very energetic and looking forward to coming back from our loss [to Coventry on Saturday night]. It turned out to be very good.”
The Saints will return to Hank Soar Complex on Tuesday at 4 p.m. for another do-or-die contest. This time, the opponent will be No. 2 Pilgrim, which fell to No. 5 Coventry, 3-0, on Monday. Tuesday’s winner advances to the state championship game that’s scheduled for Friday at Rhode Island College.
The aforementioned 1-0 lead for the Clippers stemmed from a leadoff walk to Lizzie Pickering, one of nine recent graduates who played their final game in the Blue & White on Monday night. Pickering scored on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Reilly Austin.
Instead of waiting around before getting into gear, the Saints went to work right away in the bottom of the first. Duclos started the rally with an infield hit with Jillian Serra reaching via a Cumberland error. The game was tied when 2021 graduate Maddy Nault connected for a double to score Duclos.
The Saints weren’t done in the first as D’Orazio singled to make it 2-1. Sami Simonds reached on a fielder’s choice that resulted in the third run of the frame.
“The way we answered in the first inning was huge,” said SRA head coach Ron LaBree.
The score remained 3-1 heading into the bottom of the third. With one down, D’Orazio jumped all over the first pitch she saw and forced the left fielder to retreat and then some. The ball kept on carrying as D’Orazio crossed the plate without needing to slide.
“Everyone was energized and ready to go after Gemma hit that,” said LaBree.
Ava Whiteside, a 2021 SRA grad, tacked on another run in the third with a two-out double that scored Simonds, who held the Clippers to five hits while striking out six.
Duclos closed the scoring for her team with an RBI double in the fourth inning. Cumberland had a second-and-third opportunity in the sixth inning but was unable to cash in. The Clippers ended a five-inning scoreless drought when Pickering singled in Maddie Zancan with two down in the seventh.
Simonds extinguished the comeback bid with a swinging strikeout for the game’s final out.
Olivia Badeau finished 2-for-4 for Cumberland, which committed three errors. St. Raphael did not commit an error.
“They’re a good team and give them credit,” said Cumberland head coach Marty Crowley. “Our nine seniors have been phenomenal this year. They’re good ambassadors of our program. We’ll not only miss them as players but as kids.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03