WOOD RIVER JCT. — An 11-run sixth inning by La Salle Academy, and a lack of timely hitting in the earlier innings on the part of Chariho High, led to a 15-1, six-inning Division I softball loss for the Chargers on Monday afternoon, Chariho's Senior Day.
Chariho junior pitcher Kate Powers struggled with her command throughout the day, but manged to limit La Salle to four runs on two hits through the first five innings, despite five walks.
Unfortunately for Powers, one of the hits was a three-run homer by first baseman Olivia Gilbert in the third inning. Powers couldn't put the slugger away — she fouled off several offerings in an eight-pitch at-bat, before launching a moonshot about 210 feet to left-center field, clearing the fence by about 5 feet.
“She got behind on the big girl, and she had to throw it in there, and obviously she lost her,” Chariho coach Dave Petrocelli said. “You can't get behind in counts on too many of these kids because they're good hitters, and give them credit. They hit the ball where we weren't, especially in the last couple of innings.”
The Chargers (15-3, 15-3 Division I) had opportunities to score in the earlier innings, and perhaps put some pressure on La Salle (14-2, 14-2), but couldn't capitalize with runners in scoring position.
The first inning ended on a strikeout, with runners on second and third.
In the second inning with one out and the bases loaded, senior second basewoman Caitlin O'Leary hit a liner to center, which was caught by a diving Jayme DeCesare. She then threw to second for the inning-ending double play.
Chariho finally seemed to have some momentum in the fifth, after scoring its only run. Right fielder Ava Rao singled up the middle to start things. Hannah Dias substituted for her on the next play, when Rao injured herself sliding back into first base.
Dias moved to second on a single to third base by O'Leary, with O'Leary beating a throw that hopped in the dirt to first. After a flyout to center, Dias scored from second on a sharp single to left field by Powers, with O'Leary moving to third. But the inning ended with a runner caught stealing and the Chargers down 4-1.
La Salle answered the Chariho run with 11 of its own, starting with a line-drive home run by Gilbert, about a foot over the fence in right-center. La Salle had nine hits off Chariho pitchers in the inning, and 15 players got to the plate.
The game was ended in the bottom of the sixth by the mercy rule.
Petrocelli noted that just about everything that could have gone wrong for Chariho did, and said it was the nature of regular-season softball, comparing it to the Chargers' May 10 win over first-place Pilgrim.
“We played Pilgrim earlier in the year, and we beat them 7-0,” he said. “That was our day; it wasn't Pilgrim's day. I don't think we're seven runs better than them.”
The Chargers will have a chance to get back in the win column with a victory at Lincoln on Wednesday. The game will likely have no effect on Chariho's playoff seeding. Petrocelli said the teams behind the Chargers in the standings all have at least five losses.
Chariho ends the regular season with a nonleague game at Westerly on Saturday.
“That's going to help us close the gap between the first playoff game,” Petrocelli said. “Instead of going Wednesday to Wednesday, we'll play Saturday.”