Captain Ravenne Nasser ’15 smacked the ball over the right field fence in the second inning of Andover Softball’s Big East Championship game against Phillips Exeter Academy on Sunday. Nasser, the tournament’s MVP, led the charge as Andover went on an offensive spree to win the game 22-3.
“It was my Senior tournament and something that we’ve been building up to. [Head Coach Peter Drench] always makes it a pretty big deal, so I was definitely trying in the week before to get the mentality of helping the team out as much as I could. I ended up being able to do it,” said Nasser.
Nasser was an offensive and defensive force against Andover’s opponent, hitting a homerun each game and holding her batters to a mere six hits in her 12 innings on the mound. She struck out 18 and drove in 12 runs in four games.
The championship game marked the third meeting of Andover and Exeter this season. In its first game on Sunday, Andover beat Exeter 10-0 by the mercy rule.
After losing to Andover, Exeter competed against Buckingham Browne & Nichols (BB&N) to qualify for the championship game. A walk-off homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning brought Exeter the win, and it carried its offensive momentum into the championship game as it scored first with a homerun in the top of the first inning.
Andover responded with lock down defense to halt Exeter’s momentum and responded with hits of its own from the entire lineup. 22 runs later, the team had no doubts of its ability to win the game.
Pitcher Kristina Haghdan ’17 said, “I knew that our team was going to respond in our batting. The [Exeter player] that hit the homerun didn’t get on base again after that, so the team was able to respond very well. The momentum was definitely supported by the cheering on the bench and the fact that it was our second time seeing that pitcher in the same day.”
Andover was the top seed coming into the tournament with an undefeated 10-0 record. In its first game on Saturday, Andover handily beat Tabor 9-0. The team showed consistency on defense and offense.
Co-Captain Mackenzie Bradford ’15 said, “Our offense was really strong in the game against Tabor, and that set the tone for the rest of the tournament. We had phenomenal pitching and great defense. We had beaten [Tabor] 18-0 earlier in the regular season, so coming in, we kept our heads down and stayed humble. That really helped us.”
Bradford and Nasser each hit home runs to drive up the score. By the third inning, the strong hitting had become contagious throughout Andover’s lineup.
Co-Captain Jen Kaplan ’15 said, “Once people start hitting, everyone else starts getting energy and starts to feel more comfortable. We don’t have that much pressure, so we just start hitting better.”
In the second game of the tournament, Andover balanced its nerves with composure to beat BB&N 11-1 by the mercy rule. Haghdan pitched a six inning no-hitter, but an unearned run put Andover down one run for the first two innings.
“I don’t think we’ve ever not scored first. We were all freaking out for two innings. We stayed very focused, but we were all so nervous,” said Kaplan.
Second baseman Colby Beré ’18 busted open the bottom of the second inning with a line-drive single, and Andover’s defense held BB&N to one run.
Shortstop Courtney Erickson ’15 and third baseman Victoria Bergeron ’16 held together Andover’s defense throughout the tournament with consistent putouts from the left side of the infield. Andover outscored its opponents 52-4 across four games in the tournament to bring home the first place trophy.
This Wednesday, Andover traveled to Brooks School and claimed a 9-2 victory to remain undefeated, with a 15-0 record.
Andover’s offense was slow in the start of the game, as it did not score until the second inning when Bergeron hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Antonia Tammaro ’17. Bergeron and Mackenzie Bradford stood out offensively for Andover, with two R.B.I. each. Eight of Andover’s nine starting batters tallied at least one hit in the game.
Erickson was unable to play due to an ankle injury that she suffered in the championship game against Exeter, so Tamarro filled in her place at shortstop.
Madi Bradford ’17 said, “We thought going into the game that missing [Erickson] would be tough, but [Tammaro] stepped up and did a great job. The game started slow, but we ended up finishing strong.” Haghdan had an impressive performance on the mound with 11 strikeouts.
Andover will rally its strength and energy for its sixth game of the week against Concord-Carlisle High School this Thursday. Then, its season will come to a close on Saturday after a double-header at Exeter.
Editor’s Note: Victoria Bergeron ’16 is a Sports Editor for The Phillipian.