PROVIDENCE – The Rebels fast-pitch softball team had to win two straight against one of the toughest pitchers in the state to beat, and they showed off a comprehensive team effort beating Scituate twice for the 2019 state Division II crown.
It was the second hot day in a row for the Rebels at Rhode Island College’s Dayna A Bazar Softball Complex, but it was a memorable one as they came away with their first title ever in fast pitch with Sunday’s 4-2 victory.
“It was a lot of work,” Rebel head coach Steve Chadwick said. “These kids started in March and ended it in June. That was their goal; they wanted to finish this by winning the state championship. End of story.”
“There’s no way to describe it,” winning pitcher Sam Hutchins said. “It feels amazing. We play inside of school together and play outside of school together. We all love each other so much, and it’s a great way to leave – there are eight seniors on this team, and almost all of them start.”
“We’ve worked for four years for this,” Sam Hutchins said. “We’ve worked for more than four years for this. Since we were little, we’ve worked for a state championship, and it’s just amazing.”
The only pitcher to beat SK in the playoffs was Scituate sophomore star Haley Venturini, who beat everyone this season as Scituate went 19-4 overall. Venturini struck out 15 Rebels in the 5-3 Spartan victory on Thursday, which only gave SK reason to get back out there the next day. They had to go to Newport’s Toppa Field and beat Rogers a second time in the playoffs.
“She’s an amazing pitcher,” Sam said of Venturini. “Gatorade Player of the year; best pitcher in the state hands down, and we got some hits against her in the game we lost so that kind of gave us some confidence. It was great to win that game [Saturday], and it gave us momentum coming into [Sunday].”
Hutchins was certainly showing some modesty, as she’d been close to unbeatable in SK’s postseason and went 18-2 overall. The Rebels beat top-seeded Rogers twice, once in the semifinal and that second time with backs to the wall in the one-loss bracket. SK won that road game 1-0 with Hutchins allowing only three hits.
After Rogers, it was two straight wins over Venturini. On Saturday, Hutchins out-dueled Venturini in a 3-1 game. Hutchins allowed one run in the first and nothing else, allowing only four hits, and a few of those came in the late innings. First baseman Kiera Richardson advanced Faith Hutchins to second base, and catcher Olivia Santucci doubled to right field to make it 3-1 in the bottom of the first.
A senior-laden team that had the singular goal on their mind from early in the pre-season, SK was one of the top all-around teams from day one and came into the playoffs with the No. 2 seed in D-II Marquis with a 14-2 record. Scituate was the No. 3 seed, but it could have been said they were the favorite to many.
“It was all going to be how far our defense took us,” Chadwick said. “Sammy has pitched unbelievable this week. She’s a tough competitor, and she stuck in there. From yesterday she had a little bit of a sore arm and back from pitching. Kacie [Curran] was ready, but this was Sammy’s game. She was going to finish it, and these guys all played great defense behind her.”
“My team was behind me one hundred percent,” Sam said. “I’m not a strikeout pitcher, I know that. I just try to pitch to places to get them to hit the ball to my teammates. My teammates made the plays; they did a great job having my back the whole time.”
“They crowded a plate a little bit,” Sam said of Scituate. “So, I tried to pitch inside a little more. They got ahold of some of them. They gave us a good fight, but we came out the winner and that’s a great feeling.”
Down 1-0 in the first inning of Sunday’s game, Faith Hutchins got on base with two outs then came around on a wild pitch. Keaira Richardson walked, stole second and third then scored on a Julia Bollentin double.
Scituate tied it at two in the sixth. SK took it back in their half. Liz Maciocio walked and stole second then scored on Faith’s triple inside the right-field line. Scituate outhit SK 5-4, and Venturini struck out 11, but it was SK’s penchant for hitting up-and-down the lineup and capitalizing on every opportunity which made the difference.
Fittingly, SK ended the game with three stellar defensive plays. Faith Hutchins snagged the ball at shortstop and just got a close call at first base. Maciocio stopped a shot at the hot corner, and Hannah Loftes made the final out on a sprawled out catch coming in on a line drive in right field.
“To beat [Venturini] twice,” Chadwick said. “Is a credit to these girls individually. I always said we have one of the better teams in the state, and we do.”
“They’ve done this all year,” Mark Hutchins, SK assistant coach, and father to two players on the team said. “They fight; they fight; they fight. I’ve coached these kids since they were literally six years old, I know their fight and I know their want. They came into this year with a goal, and they came and finished it.”
“SK has never won the fastpitch championship,” Hutchins continued. “So, this is our first. Hopefully, it’s one of many.”