Sunday, June 11, 2017

Savannah Small Leads Grafton Softball to Division 2 Central title



By John McGuirk (@Patsfan1313)

WORCESTER, Mass. - Oakmont Regional came into its Division 2 Central Mass. title game unblemished. If ever there was a year for the Spartans to pick up a district title, this was it. But Oakmont had not seen a pitcher the likes of Savannah Small this season. 

The Grafton junior ace was superb throughout, holding the mighty Spartan batters to just four hits and striking out 11 as the Indians prevailed 7-0.



"Coming in I had a lot of confidence," said Small. "I knew I had a really great team behind me and I knew I could throw strikes. We knew Oakmont was good but we just went out and played our game today. Once we started scoring runs a lot of weight was lifted off of my shoulders."

No. 3 Grafton, which won state crowns in 2012 and 2013, will look to capture a third should it get past defending two-time state champ Hampshire Regional in Tuesday's state semifinal to be played at Hudson High School beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Red Raiders knocked off Southwick in their district final played Saturday. The Spartans close their brilliant season at 22-1.

The Indians (18-5) jumped on Spartans ace pitcher Paige Toothaker for a pair of runs in the first and never looked back. RBIs by Sarah Remillard and Erin Cardoza had Grafton off and running. While Smalls continued to set Oakmont down, the Indians would add to their total thanks to a three run fourth inning. 

A Toothaker wild pitch with a runner on third followed by a two-run single off the bat of Jessica Evans added to Oakmont's misery.

"Savannah never seems to get rattled," Indians coach John Gemme said. "We've been kind of letting teams hang with us late in games but for us to get those runs early was really big for us. I think Oakmont was a little nervous out there today and we took advantage of it."

Grafton would plate two more runs in the sixth on two more Toothaker wild pitches. Toothaker, headed to St. Thomas Aquinas College next fall, gave up eight hits while striking out nine. 

"Twenty years from now hopefully the girls won't remember this game but remember how great a season it was," said Oakmont coach Randy Jepson. "For us, we wouldn't have gone anywhere without Paige. She kind of tweeked her back in the last game and I think that was bothering her a little but there is no way I'm taking her out of the game and she isn't going to let me. Today we made some mistakes and its seem to snowball from there."


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