On Wednesday, new Lower Kristina Haghdan ’17 struck out a whopping 16 batters over seven innings in a complete game shutout, spearheading Andover Softball’s 8-0 victory over St. Paul’s in Andover’s first game of the season.
“It was the home opener, so we just wanted to play as best as we could. I just tried to keep my cool and hope that everyone else was pumped and ready to go for the season,” said Haghdan.
Head Coach Peter Drench said, “[Haghdan] picked right up where she left off in Florida [during preseason]. A 16-[strikeout] shutout is a wonderful way to start her Andover softball career.”
Andover initially struggled to develop offensive momentum, but Drench urged the team to embrace the challenge that the talented St. Pauls pitcher presented.
“Facing a formidable pitcher early in the season is exactly what we needed. It wasn’t easy, but as the game progressed we found ways to create runs,” said Drench.
Centerfielder Antonia Tammaro ’17 added, “St. Pauls had a pretty good pitcher, so we had to rely on the short game towards the fourth inning which batted in a couple runs and got us going.”
Co-Captain Jen Kaplan ‘15 began the series of bunting that led to Andover’s success in the middle of the game. Bunting with the bases loaded confused the St. Paul’s team, and Andover capitalized on the opportunity to score. The bunts continued to flow after Kaplan’s and later in the inning, Victoria Bergeron ’16 hit a single up the middle to bring home two more runners.
“We did a lot of short game practice this week that also helped. Our first couple runs came off of bunts when there was a player on third base,” added Co-Captain Ravenne Nasser ’15.
Despite the comfortable lead, Andover’s defense did not let up. Co-Captain and catcher Mackenzie Bradford ’15 was steady behind the plate for the entire game.
“Our infield is very strong. We consistently make the routine outs, which is something that we struggled to do last year. When [Haghdan] strikes out 16 batters, that only leaves five outs for the infielders and outfielders, so its extremely important that we make the plays,” said Bergeron.
“Once we get into the groove, our batting lineup is incredible. We will continue to develop from here, and I am confident that we will have a great season,” said Bradford.
“This game definitely showed us that we have some things to work on, but hopefully we will be able to keep taking advantage of the other teams mistakes,” said Nasser.
Kaplan continued, “A shutout 8-0 game is a great start. Hopefully we can carry this momentum and energy throughout the season.”
Andover will compete in a double header this Saturday against North Reading High School at home.