McLaughlin, TMHS Softballers Blank Newburyport
TMHS senior Shannon McLaughlin tossed a one-hit shutout in the first round of the MIAA state tournament.
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Senior pitcher Shannon McLaughlin picked the right day to turn in one of the finest pitching performances of her storied career, as the right-handed fireballer tossed a one-hitter and led her Tewksbury High School softball team to a 6-0 shutout victory over Newburyport in the opening round of the MIAA Division 2 North Sectional Tournament Friday afternoon at Livingston Field.
McLaughlin mowed down the first eight batters she faced and didn’t allow a runner past first base until the sixth inning. She carried a no-hitter through five innings, and finished the day with 11 strikeouts and only two walks.
“She (McLaughlin) had the fastball working,” said TMHS coach Leo “Doc” DiRocco. “She just powered it in there.”
“I was excited,” McLaughlin said. “It was probably my last home game, so I was really excited. The team played awesome defense. We were all amped up and we were ready to go.”
McLaughlin, a senior co-captain who earned the Merrimack Valley Conference Player of the Year Award this spring, got all the offense she needed from fellow senior co-captain Brooke Hardy, who collected two hits, scored three runs and reached base in all three of her at-bats. Newburyport simply couldn’t solve the riddle of the Jacksonville University bound Hardy, who added a stolen base and some solid defense to her stellar all-around effort.
“She’s the most intense kid I’ve ever coached,” said DiRocco of Hardy. “She’ll go into second base three different ways.”
Tewksbury took charge of this game right from the get-go, as McLaughlin struck out the side in the top of the first inning and her teammates rewarded her with a two-run lead in the bottom of the first. After Hardy and junior left fielder Erin Walsh reached on singles, two of Tewksbury’s talented group of first-year players came through when it counted. Freshman right fielder Adriana Favreau and freshman designated hitter Teagan Trant each delivered run-producing singles to stake McLaughlin and the Redmen to a 2-0 lead.
“We had some timely hitting. We jumped on them early and I think that took the pressure off right away,” DiRocco said.
Trant collected three hits, knocked in two runs and scored a run on the day. Favreau had two hits, and just missed adding a third on a blistering line drive she hit directly at the Newburyport center fielder.
“The freshmen came in and they were so good and so talented,” McLaughlin said. “It was tough for them at first but we showed them what it is to play Tewksbury softball and they caught on quick. They’re not freshmen anymore, they’re veterans. They’ve played 20-plus games and I think they’ve come a long way since the beginning of the year.”
McLaughlin was masterful throughout and the game never seemed to be in doubt, especially after junior second baseman Anna Sessa sealed the deal with a clutch, two-out, three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth. The speedy Sessa crushed a fastball deep into left field and circled the bases before Newburyport could track down the ball.
The Redmen got contributions from just about everyone in this game, as seven different hitters combined to bang out 11 hits. Freshman first baseman Kayla VonKahle also contributed a single, and junior catcher Jess Silva had a solid game behind the plate. Sophomore third baseman Kirsten Dick and freshman right fielder Marissa Doherty had strong defensive games,
“We worked hard yesterday with all the kids and I think it really paid off. They feel good about themselves,” DiRocco said.
“It’s a good way to leave here and start off states, it’s a great win,” McLaughlin said.
The road gets tougher right away for the Redmen, who came in to the state tournament seeded sixth in a field of 14 teams in the Division 2 North Sectional. Tewksbury, now 15-6 on the season, will face No. 3 seed Arlington High School Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. in Arlington. The Spy Ponders brought a 16-4 record into the tournament and eliminated 14th seed Bedford High School, 9-3, Friday afternoon.
“We’re thrilled with this win. I think we can play with anybody, I really do,” DiRocco said.