Last June, the ABRHS varsity softball team came home from Martin Field in Lowell with the MIAA North Division 1 trophy in their possession.
This year, the defending champions had to settle for second place as they lost to Malden High School’s team, 3-2, this past Monday night in the same venue.
Billed as a probable pitchers’ duel between AB’s Sarah Ropiak and Malden’s Kiara Amos, the game was scoreless for only the first inning.
The Golden Tornados were ahead 2-0 by the end of two. Melissa Light hit a triple to right field, scoring Erika Hanson from first. A single by Rebecca Krigman allowed Light to run home.
The Colonials’ offense responded quickly in the third inning and tied it up. Lead-off batter Michelle Surdan drove the ball to deep right field for a triple. Ashley Reuther laid down a bunt, allowing Surdan to score and reaching second when the catcher failed to make the play at home. Kirsten Pfister executed another bunt and Sarah Ropiak singled up the middle, sending Reuther home.
After that, Amos and Ropiak were dominant on the mound, displaying the skill and concentration that each showed in previous tournament match-ups.
Both teams got several runners on base, but they failed to score and the game went into extra innings.
Ropiak singled up the middle on the first pitch at the top of the 8th inning. Hannah Graney moved her to second in a sacrifice play. Freshman Isabel Smokelin went in to run for Ropiak and went to third on a passed ball, but was left stranded when Amos struck out the next two batters.
Ropiak struck out the lead-off batter in the 8th inning. Emily Moran then reached first and advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Next up was Light, who hit a fly ball to right field that was mishandled, scoring Moran and ending the game.
Winning pitcher Amos had 13 strikeouts; Ropiak had ten.
Ropiak went 2-for-4 with two singles. Surdan was 2-for-3 with two triples.
Malden head coach John Furlong was thrilled with his team’s performance and full of compliments for their opponents.
Citing the hard work of his players, Furlong said, “We judge our program by AB. We aspire to be like them and Central Catholic, who are here year after year.”
“We got a few breaks that went our way,” he said of the game’s outcome.
AB Head Coach Mary Matthews said, “We had a great season. I’m proud of what we did. We’re all leaving here with our heads held high.”
The team finished with a record of 17-7. Two of the losses were regular season one-run games against top-ranked Milford.
The Colonials graduated four seniors: Ropiak, Maddie Hatch, Nicole Geoffrion and Caolinn Sullivan. Ropiak is headed to Brown University to pitch; Hatch will attend Wheaton College and play outfield.
Malden, who beat Bridgewater-Raynham on Tuesday night, will play Milford for the Division 1 state title on Saturday.