PAWTUCKET — The offensive artillery the Coventry softball team brought out in its blowout win over La Salle last week was no where to be found Tuesday afternoon at Slater Park.
As it turned out, the Oakers didn’t need much offense against Division I neophyte Tolman because senior pitcher Kerrie DeLiberis looked a lot like the DeLiberis who pitched the Oakers to last year’s state final.
The righty scattered six hits and allowed just one unearned run, while the Oakers scored the game-winning run in the sixth inning on sophomore Alyssa Derrick’s RBI double to right field, which scored senior Kristin Gallagher in a 2-1 Division I victory.
“The eight-day break was good for me because it gave me a little break, but it was kind of awkward to play after not playing for eight days,” DeLiberis said. “I was just focusing and trying to hit my spots.”
“Kerrie was getting them to fly out to Haley [Dennis] for the most part and that’s because she’s throwing her change-up inside,” Coventry coach Chris Daigneault said. “She pitched awesome. Her change-up threw off just enough.”
DeLiberis was at her best in the seventh inning after Leigh Wilson lined a double past Dennis to start the inning. The senior then forced a pop up before Kaylee Molina-Vaz singled to put runners at the corners with one out.
Daigneault went to the circle and told catcher Nikki Bent to throw out Molina-Vaz if she tried to steal second and allow Wilson to score. As it turned out, Molina-Vaz tried to steal and Bent threw her out, but Wilson didn’t budge from third.
DeLiberis made quick work of Crystal Ritcey for her fourth strike out and her third to end an inning.
“I feel like we’re starting to get back in the groove of things as a team a little bit better,” DeLiberis said.
While Daigneault had nothing but praise for DeLiberis and his team’s defense, the same can’t be said for an Oaker offense which blasted five home runs and scored 15 runs in the team’s last game against La Salle.
Coventry barely had more hits Tuesday than they had home runs last week. Freshman Kaitlin Mattera (two hits, Derrick and Gallagher were the only Oakers who took a good approach against Tolman starter Olivia Larson.
The fourth and fifth innings frustrated Daigneault the most – not because the Oakers made six straight out, but because Larson only threw 14 pitches to navigate the two innings.
“Kaitlin and Kristin always have a great approach,” Daigneault. “Those two are always going to have their best approach at the plate and they’re always going to hit good pitches. I was keeping track and there was a point where six batters only saw eight pitches. That’s not good.”
Coventry (4-2 Division I) took the lead in the second inning when Bent crushed a triple to right field. Courtesy runner Natalia Angelone scored on batter later on a Derrick sacrifice fly to right field.
Mattera tried to start another rally with a one-out single to right field, but she and fellow freshman Brooke Keresztessy ended up being stranded.
“I think a lot of us were too far ahead of the ball and we were a little too anxious,” Mattera said.
Tolman (3-6 Division I) tied the game an inning later when Ashley Hessler hit a pop up with two outs and Riley on second. Short stop Tatiana Webb drifted into the outfield to get under the ball, but the senior couldn’t make the catch and Riley scored.
Neither team pushed a runner past second base again until the sixth inning when Gallagher reached on a fielder’s choice and motored around the bases to score on Derrick’s double.
Coventry will look to win its third straight game when struggling Smithfield comes to town Thursday for a 3:45 p.m. game.