The Everett High softball team enjoyed a highly productive week with three victories to improve to 9-4 on the season. The Lady Crimson Tide pounded Greater Boston League opponents Medford and Somerville and then used strong pitching and tight defense to pull out a close encounter with non league foe Boston Latin.
Last Tuesday’s 12-5 romp over Medford was highlighted by a fine pitching performance by Michelle Zullo, who went all seven innings and allowed just one earned run on three hits, while fanning nine Lady Mustang batters and walking five.
Everett asserted control from the outset, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the opening inning. Zullo started the rally with a single and Alea Martinelli drew a walk. Janyne Sierra doubled to knock in Zullo and Martinelli scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by Erin McLaughlin.
After Brianna Uga was hit by pitch and stole second, consecutive base hits by Nicole Flores and Rachel Pierce delivered Uga. Flores came across on a solid hit by Tori Cyrus, and after Taylor Sweeney drew a walk, Pierce scored on an error on a ball hit by Zullo.
Everett made it 7-0 with two markers in the third when Flores belted a shot deep into the outfield to score Sierra, who had walked, and McLaughlin, who had singled.
Medford chipped away at the Everett advantage with a solo marker in its half of the third and two in the fourth to draw within 7-3, but the Lady Crimson put the game away with a five run outburst in the top of the sixth. Extra base hits included a triple by Sierra that scored Martinelli, who had singled, and a two bagger by Flores that brought in Uga (who had reached on an error that allowed Sierra to score). Cyrus and Sweeney also came through with base hits that accounted for RBI.
“We came out early swinging our bats and made key hits when we needed them,” said EHS head coach Stacy Poste of her team’s performance against Medford. “They took out their starting pitcher in the fourth inning, but we actually had a harder time with their second pitcher. She was a little quicker and had more control of the ball. But in the sixth inning, Coach Nuzzolo told the girls to back off the plate a bit because they were all getting jammed. They listened and were able to extend their arms and achieve better hits, which resulted in five runs in the sixth.
“Although this was not Michelle’s best performance, I give her credit for getting on the mound and trying,” added Poste. “She was hit by an overthrow by a Medford player while warming up on the side near first base. Toward the end of the game you could see her thigh was bothering her. At practice she showed me her thigh and it had a bruise from the ball. So as she hit her leg to pitch she was hitting the spot where she got hurt. You could see she was letting up a little and that is when Medford got their hits.”
Two days later, the Lady Crimson Tide had little trouble disposing of Somerville in a contest called after five innings because of the mercy rule. Zullo went three innings and allowed no hits. Rebecca Burley came on in the fourth and worked two perfect frames, thus giving the EHS pitching duo an official no hitter.
The Everett girls offense picked up where it left off against Medford, scoring five times in the top of the first. After Cyrus and Martinelli singled and promptly stole second and third, an illegal pitch advanced the runners another base.
A hard hit off the glove of the Somerville third baseman by Sierra brought in Martinelli and Sierra herself scored moments later on a Somerville error. McLaughlin, who had reached on the error, eventually scored on a base hit by Flores, who then came around on an error.
In the fourth, Everett turned the contest into a rout with six markers. A bases loaded triple by Sierra was the key blow in the rally. The Lady Crimson Tide tacked on three more in the sixth to make it a “mercy” contest, with Sierra and Pierce delivering RBI hits.
However, things did not go quite as easily for Everett on Friday against Boston Latin. Zullo went all seven innings and allowed just three hits and no earned runs while fanning seven and walking only two.
However, the Lady Crimson Tide’s bats were relatively silent compared to the heavy lumber they had wielded in the previous two games. After spotting Latin a 1-0 lead in the second inning, Sweeney manufactured a run when she reached on a bunt, moved to second on a sac bunt by Zullo, stole third, and then sped home on a passed ball.
Everett took the lead with a solo marker in the fifth when Cyrus walked, advanced to second on a sac bunt by Sweeney, moved to third on a base hit by Zullo, and then crossed the plate on a slap bunt by Martinelli.
The Lady Crimson Tide then gave Zullo some breathing room with a trio of insurance markers in the sixth. McLaughlin reached on an error, Flores was hit by a pitch, and Pierce bunted both up a base. McLaughlin scooted home on a passed ball and after Cyrus walked and stole second, Sweeney came through with a big base hit into the outfield to rescue both teammates for a 5-1 lead, which proved to be more than enough for the capable right arm of Zullo.
“Michelle pitched a great game, but was squeezed by the umpire,” noted Poste. “She had to pitch a lot down the middle because of this, which allowed Latin to hit her.
“But we just did not come with our bats this game,” added the coach. “We only had five hits and scored just two runs on legit hits. But what was good to see is that although our girls are not used to being behind, they battled back when Latin took an early lead. They tend to hang their heads when we fall behind and it can be so hard for the coaches to get them back up. But they did a great job in the fifth inning. When one person got on, you could see their spirits rise. Sometimes that is all it takes.”
The leading hitters thus far this season for the Lady Crimson Tide are Sierra with a .422 batting average; Flores with a .400 BA; and Pierce with a .392 BA.
Zullo has hurled 77 innings in which she has fanned 73 opponents, while walking only 28. She has yielded just 17 earned runs and only 33 hits for an ERA of 1.54.
Poste and her crew were set to play at Cambridge yesterday (Tuesday) and will host Saugus tomorrow under the lights at Glendale at 6:45 game. The girls then will have their big showdown when they host Malden in a rematch next Tuesday.