NARRAGANSETT – West Warwick and Narragansett’s girls softball teams both got their division schedules started on Tuesday afternoon, and it was a cold and windy evening by the time the Mariners scored 21 runs in the fifth and sixth innings to force the 10-run mercy rule at 29-19.
West Warwick was ahead 12-3 after three and a half innings, but the Mariners heated up as the game went on, finishing with 23 hits as a team. Both sides looked rusty to begin the year as a number of passed balls, errors and mental miscues led to the football score.
Already in rebuilding mode after a 14-2 record in 2015 and a second place finish in 2014, the Wizards look to shake off an oddball first game with a focus on the positives, and under a new head coach in their second season in DII, the Mariners are in uncharted waters.
The crooked innings began right away as the Wizards batted around in the top of the first inning, scoring nine runs and sending 14 batters to the plate. Freshman centerfielder Alexis Carpenter led off and scored the first and ninth run, reaching base on an error then a bunt single. Junior left fielder Marina Morgera singled out of the second spot and scored then drove a batter in with a ground out.
Freshman catcher and three-hitter Emily McNeil had two walks in the first and a run. Sophomore starting pitcher Caitlin Gamelin reached base twice in the first and scored once. Freshman third baseman Madisen Saballa-Reese and junior second baseman Katherine Sears both singled and scored. Sophomore shortstop Kaitlyn Parry and freshman designated hitter Casie Gil also reached base and scored. After McNeil’s second walk in the first, junior lefthander Makenzie Babcock was replaced as the pitcher by freshman Amelia Beauchemin. Beauchemin allowed a batter to reach then ended the inning without any additional runs. The Mariners had three errors, three passed balls and a wild pitch in the top of the inning.
“When we were down nine to nothing, I didn’t think it was going to be a very long game, to be honest,” Mariner head coach Elizabeth Afonso said. Afonso is in her first season with the team. “Going into the game, I really didn’t know what to expect,” Afonso continued. “We’ve had a few practices, not a ton, but I’m happy with what I saw from the team. It was a true team effort, everyone contributed.”
Down three 3-point field goals with 21 outs to go, Narragansett began chipping away during their first half inning. Junior shortstop and captain Kaylee LeCam led off with a single to leftfield, and she later stole third base then scored a run on captain and third baseman Riley Clancey’s double.
Freshman left fielder Abigail LeCam hit in the second spot and moved the other LeCam to second with a sacrifice bunt. After her double, Clancey advanced on a passed ball then scored on junior catcher and captain Grace Ragozzino’s single to right. Babcock’s single sent Ragozzino home to make it 9-3.
Junior second baseman Kaitlin McLeod added a single before the inning ended. After the Mariners nearly batted around, Beauchemin put up a scoreless second, with a groundout and two strikeouts. Gamelin kept the Mariners off the board in the second, striking out both LeCams and catching Beauchemin on the base paths.
The Wizards picked up three more in the third with two outs. After Carpenter struck out looking, Morgera singled then scored on McNeil’s triple. Gamelan knocked home McNeil on a double then Saballa-Reese drove in McNeil. Beauchemin ended the inning with her fourth strikeout.
Gamelin struck out two, keeping the Mariners scoreless for a second straight inning. Beauchemin struck out two for a scoreless fourth, keeping the Mariner deficit at nine. Narragansett began the fourth down 12-3, looking like they may be in danger of the mercy rule, but they picked up five runs with the two through six hitters all scoring.
After Clancey drew a walk, freshman Jordan Babcock came in at catcher for Ragozzino and hit in the fourth inning, knocking in Clancey in with a double. Junior Virginia Doyle entered in the bottom of the fourth and hit a two-RBI double. Freshman Rebecca Landry also batted for the first time in the fourth and hit RBI triple to knock in the fifth run, making it 12-8. In the top of the fifth, the Wizards responded with seven runs, making it 19-8. Carpenter, McNeil and Gamelin each scored their third runs of the game while Saballa-Reese,
Parry and Sears all crossed home plate for the second time. The Mariners put up seven of their own in the fifth, getting to 19-15. Freshman Desiree Hubbard, Clancey and J. Babcock doubled and scored. Doyle, Landry, Beauchemin and junior Jessica McLeod scored runs. After Beauchemin stranded two Wizard runners with a pair of strikeouts, West Warwick was left scoreless in the sixth.
The Mariners put up 14 runs in the bottom of the sixth before they hit the 10-run limit and the game was called. Clancey was the only Mariner to play the whole game, and she reached base in all six at-bats, scoring five runs. Landry went 4-for-4 with two triples and six RBI. Beauchemin pitched five and a third innings, ending the game with nine strikeouts. Both Mariners pitchers gave up a combined 10 runs. Gamelin pitched the first three for West Warwick then Reese came in the fourth.
“It was impressive that we put 19 runs on the board,” Wizard head coach Brian Palazzo said after the game, focusing on the positives. “We haven’t done too much hitting at this point in practice, so it was great to see us put the ball in play like that. Going forward, the bottom line is, we can’t give teams extra outs like that. Every inning that they had a big inning, we gave them six or seven outs.”
“I just told them to have a never say die attitude and just never give up because you never know what’s going to happen,” Afonso said. “I told them after the game, [West Warwick’s] pitcher was struggling but always be respectful because any given day that could be us.”
“The freshman really performed well, I was impressed with that,” Afonso said “We have a strong group of freshman who are going to play a key part in the season, and there are a lot of freshman on varsity. Rebecca Landry, who hit those two whopping triples to left field, just a strong, strong hitter. “Pitched for Narragansett Pier Middle School last year, she did a nice job, she was really able to bear down. She can be a bit wild at times, but she was right on her game today. We have one more pitcher we could have gone to, but I didn’t feel the need to take her out.”
“This is my first year coaching high school, I’ve been a college coach for years,” Afonso said, having studied up a bit on the Mariners past few seasons.
“I know that Narragansett was Division III for several years and won the state championship back-to-back. They moved up to Division II last year, and they did okay. I’m looking to build on that this year, and I think everyone is going to contribute.” “We need more strikes from our pitchers,” Palazzo said.
“Defensively, we’ve got girls playing positions they’ve never played before and positions they’re not yet comfortable with just because we had a need to fill those spots. We’ve got top work on defense.”
The game seemed at early moments like it would go the opposite way, and with the weather still warming up and 16 division games remaining for both teams, the season could still go a number of ways. Narragansett visit Prout on Monday, April 4 at 4:00 p.m. while West Warwick visit East Greenwich on the same day at 4:30 p.m.