Pitchers’ Duel Eventually Ends with Walk-Off Defeat for Softball

The softball team lost in a close extra inning game this Wednesday, falling in the bottom of the eighth inning to a talented Governor’s Academy squad, 2-1. Andover was led by Michelle Hollebeke ’08, who pitched the entire game and knocked in Andover’s only run to kick off the season. Andover and Governor’s battled hard for a full seven innings, but neither team could get momentum on offense, resulting in a scoreless tie entering extra innings. Sarah Onorato ’11 led off the eighth inning by putting herself in scoring position. With Onorato on second, returning shortstop Sarah Boylan ’09 laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over to third base. With one out, Hollebeke stepped up to the plate and hit a pop up just behind first base. The Governor’s second baseman couldn’t come up with the catch however, and Onorato scampered home to score on the play, giving Andover its first run and first lead of the game, 1-0. In the latter half of the extra inning, however, Governor’s struck back and scored two runs to earn the walk-off victory. “The pitching was fantastic throughout the whole game, and our defense was solid too,” said starting second baseman Alayna Garbarino ’10. Garbarino continued, “We all know that we are capable hitters with the potential to put up a lot of runs, and with a few more games under our belt I think we’ll get back into our rhythm.” The game was the first of what promises to be an exciting and successful 2008 season for the softball team. Last season, the team finished an amazing 13-1 overall record, which included a fierce hitting attack and lights out pitching. To finish off last year’s regular season, Andover crushed archrival Exeter 16-8 and 16-1, respectively, in a doubleheader. The team lost four seniors to graduation, but still have many key contributors to lead the team this season, including second year captain, Stephanie Clegg ’08. Hollebeke, the ace of the pitching rotation, returns as well, with three other seniors, two uppers, and two lowers. The nine returning players will hope to integrate promising newcomers for a solid 2008 campaign. The 2008 schedule is favorable for Andover, as all but three of the games this season are home, including the Big East tournament toward the end of the season. The team looks to get back on track this Saturday, when Andover hosts a jamboree on Saturday before playing Lawrence Academy on Wednesday.