Reily Amaral threw a two-hit shutout as the Mt. Hope softball team beat West Warwick 6-0 in the opening round of the Division II playoffs at the high school on Thursday evening. The third seed …
Reily Amaral threw a two-hit shutout as the Mt. Hope softball team beat West Warwick 6-0 in the opening round of the Division II playoffs at the high school on Thursday evening. The third seed Huskies improved their record to 13-3 and move on to play at second seed Ponaganset in the second round of the winner’s bracket on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s just the beginning of the playoffs, but I really think that we are going to have a good ride to RIC,” said Amaral after the game. “If we play our game, we can beat anyone in this division.”
Head coach Craig Giarrusso was also happy after the win.
“Great start to the playoffs. I couldn’t be prouder of the way that we played. We look like the team that started the season winning 9 of 10,” he said.
The Huskies senior ace was nasty, striking out 14, with no walks and allowing just 2 hits in seven innings of work. The sound of Amaral’s heater popping into catcher Ava Waddell’s glove was daunting as the Wizards made their way to the plate. Coach Giarrusso called several different types of pitches while sitting on a bucket in the dugout and Amaral on the pitcher’s mound, threw them all to perfection in a brilliant outing.
“Coach had me throwing a lot of curve balls and a lot of rise balls,” Amaral said. “We worked away and up. The fastball has had a lot movement lately.”
This season Amaral has been working with athletic trainer Kristina Keddie to keep her right arm healthy heading into playoffs.
“I feel really good,” Amaral said. “I feel like I have been taking really good care of it. Our games have been more spread out this season. The day after it’s sore, but it’s not been a problem.”
“Reily is a competitor. She’s well rested and she’s pitching well,” said Coach Giarrusso.
Huskies play errorless defense in the field
The Huskies defensive played errorless behind Amaral making seven fly ball outs. Perhaps the best was a snatch made by centerfielder Elsa White who ranged back for a long fly ball hit to the left-centerfield gap. The junior leapt and caught the ball, then crashed into the high-walled fence.
“I didn’t realize that the fence was so close,” said a humble White after the game. “I knew it was going way past me, so I ran back as fast as I could. I caught the ball then hit the fence. It wasn’t pretty.”
Meat of order powers Huskies offense
The Huskies meat of the order, Amaral, Sydney Crowell and freshman Ava Waddell powered the Huskies offense, collecting 4 hits, driving in 4 runs and scoring 3 runs.
The Huskies senior ace singled and drove in White (2 for 4 with 1 run scored) and Sydney Crowell, both who reached via an error in the first inning, to give Mt. Hope a quick 2-0 lead.
Mt. Hope struck for two more runs in the bottom of the third inning. Crowell slammed a double to right field to lead off. Then Waddell (2 for 4) belted a triple down the left field line. The ball one hopped into the fence and Crowell easily scored from second base to the delight of the fans. The freshman sped around the bases, landing on third base and high-fived Coach Giarrusso after giving Mt. Hope a 3-0 lead. Amaral smacked a grounder up the middle to score Waddell for a 4-0 lead.
The Huskies scored two more in the fourth inning. Senior Kylie Rolando reached base on another Wizards’ error. Julia Allen walked to give Mt. Hope runners at first and second. Crowell then smashed a deep fly ball to right field. Coach Giarrusso ushered Rolando to third base after the catch for a Wizards’ out and she scored on a throwing error to give Mt. Hope a 5-0 lead. Waddell then hammered a double to the left-center field gap, plating Crowell, to give Mt. Hope a commanding 6-0 lead.
More strike outs
Meanwhile, Amaral was dealing strikeouts. The ace struck out 6 of 10 batters in the last three innings. After allowing a one out single in the final inning, Amaral whiffed Wizards’, Allie Iannotti and Tianna-Lee Keovongvichit to end the game.