READING — The Reading High softball team had a few more baserunners than Newton North did on Saturday and ended up scoring one more run than the Tigers.
With Reading pitcher Analise Grady giving up two hits, the Rockets won the non-league battle 2-1 at Birch Meadow.
Grady retired 13 of the first 14 batters she faced, with just a hit batsman with one out in the third. She did not allow a hit until Bri LeBlanc beat out an infield single with one out in the fifth. After she stole second, LeBlanc scored the Tigers’ only run when Caitlin Conroy flied out to right and the throw to get LeBlanc at third after she tagged up was off the mark.
Grady finished the game with six strikeouts and allowed no walks.
“She’s been our rock,” said Reading coach Jill McElroy, whose team improved to 14-2. “She’s done an outstanding job and has kept us in a position to win.”
Reading had the lead runner get on base in four of the six innings it batted. In the bottom of the second, the Rockets took the lead when senior catcher Marissa Iapicca singled to right with two outs, scoring Grace Weston, who reached on a fielder’s choice when Caroline Higgins (leadoff walk) was forced out at second.
Reading MA – May 14: Reading Rocket players erupt from the bench as they beat Newton North HS 2-1 at Reading. May 14, 2022 in Reading, Massachusetts. (Photo By Jim Mahoney)
In the third, Higgins drove in the Rockets’ second run when she dropped a single in shallow left, scoring Jackie Malley, who walked and moved to second when Grady reached on a fielder’s choice while Emily Cashin (leadoff single) was forced out at third.
“We got the first runner on but we have to do a better job of getting them around,” McElroy said.
The Rockets threatened again in the fifth when Cashin led off with a double in the left-center gap. She moved to third when Emily Martell grounded back to Tigers’ pitcher Ella Maher. Maher got out of the inning when she struck out the next two batters.
Maher finished the game with eight strikeouts. She allowed three walks and five hits.
Newton North (10-4) had another chance to score in the top of the seventh, when Marion Carter singled with one out. Her courtesy runner, Eva Mescher, made the second out when she left first base early to take a lead. Grady claimed her sixth strikeout to end the game.
“They were able to capitalize on their chances and we weren’t,” said Newton North coach Lauren Baugher. “When you get runners on you have to get them around.”
The Tigers also had a chance in the third. Conroy hit a fly ball to right that Cashin dropped but she recovered in time to throw Conroy out at second.