Co-Captain Kayla Maloney ’13 pitched a complete game and three RBI’s on Saturday, handing Andover its first victory of the season. Following seven innings of hard play, the returning Big East Title Champions defeated rival Noble and Greenough School by a score of 4-3.
“Maloney and Nikki Pelletier [’13] worked together excellently, especially in the last few innings with beautiful combinations of pitches,” said Caitlin Clancy ’13. “Nobles is an all-around great team and playing them challenges us to play our best.”
The matchup against Nobles was greatly anticipated; historically, Nobles and Andover have had top-notch New England softball programs. Two years ago, after falling to Nobles twice in heart-breakers, Andover found victory in the season-ending Big East Tournament.
On Wednesday, Andover took an early lead in the first inning when Maloney smashed a double to drive in Co-Captain Abby Chung ’13 for a 1-0 lead.
In the second inning, Andover manufactured another run. After Kasey Hartung ’14 singled, Jen Kaplan ’15 laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Hartung into scoring position, and Chung singled to move Hartung to third base. With runners on the corners, Maloney came through clutch again, batting in Hartung for the second run of the game.
Nobles, however, soon rallied back due to multiple Andover fielding errors, scoring three runs in the next two innings to take the lead 3-2.
“We arrived slightly late at Nobles, which prevented us from warming up adequately,” said Maloney. “As a result, the first three innings were slightly shaky defensively.”
Pelletier answered with a solo home-run to deep center field, tieing up the game at three apiece.
“Nikki played fantastically, and shifted the momentum in our favor for the rest of the game,” said Kaplan. “The home-run energized our team, and motivated us to play spectacular defense for the rest of the game.”
Building off Pelletier’s success at the plate, Andover excelled defensively for the last three innings of the game.
On one play, Hartung fielded a dying bunt, expertly throwing out the lead runner at second to prevent a Nobles’ runner from reaching scoring position.
Later in the game, Chung would make a diving stop at shortstop, nailing a long throw into the outstretched glove of first baseman Clancy.
Chung’s offensive excellence was also vital to Andover’s win, helping Andover spark rallies in crucial situations.
“Abby’s gracefulness on and off the field inspires younger players to work harder and play better,” said Maloney.
With the defense solidly behind her, Maloney knocked in her third RBI of the game to seal the win.
The previous Saturday, Andover faced off in two scrimmages against Andover High School (AHS) and Lowell.
Andover defeated AHS but fell to Lowell; official scores were not recorded. Both scrimmages allowed Andover to give all players on the roster playing time, and the team showed signs of progress.
“We haven’t played a game since Florida, so it was great to see some improvement from the team and strong camaraderie,” said Kaplan.
While Andover fell to Lowell, the team garnered a positive note from the game.
“Getting the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh in the second scrimmage was a sign of this team’s competitive spirit,” said Head Coach Peter Drench.
Looking forward, Andover hopes to diversify its abilities at the plate and limit the amount of errors made on the field.
“We are looking to string together a lot of hits this season and dominate defensively,” said Maloney. “In the future, we’ll be doing infield drills and hitting off a T-to work on our hitting technique.”
Andover hopes to ride its success into Friday, when the team will face Governor’s Academy in its first home contest.