With a 15-3 record, the Walpole Girls Softball team entered the Division I South Sectional tournament as the fifth seed. To close their regular season, the Rebels defeated Norwood 11-2 on May 31, after suffering a 0-9 loss against Norton the previous day.
In Walpole’s game against Norton, Norton’s pitcher, Kelly Nelson, threw 18 strikeouts. Nelson was recently honored as Gatorade Player of Year for Massachusetts, and currently holds the state record for strikeouts pitched. The loss moved the Rebels’ record to 14-3.
“[Nelson’s] probably the best pitcher in the state and the best we’ve ever faced. We were able to get three runners on base off of her, but that was it as we were overmatched and couldn’t make the adjustments we needed to,” head coach Sprague said.
Junior captain Mckenzie Rae was the sole player who got a hit, sending a ball to right center and making it to first base.
Senior Eva Keyes also got on base twice after being hit by a pitch each time.
In addition to being a strong defensive team, Norton also performed offensively strong, as many of their hits flew far into outfield, and they managed to score nine runs against the Rebels.
“We faced a really strong team with a lot of skill, and even though we lost, the team was able to learn a lot from the game to help us get ready for tournament where we will be facing difficult teams,” Rae said.
Bouncing back from their defeat, Walpole performed strongly against Norwood, and entered their post-season on a high note.
“The Norwood game was great because we were able to bounce back offensively and our pitching and defense was solid. We scored 11 runs and everyone contributed, which is always a huge positive,” Sprague said.
On June 9, the Rebels will play their first tournament game on their home field, Bird Middle School. Walpole will face the winner in the match against Somerset Berkeley, who is seeded 12th, and Brookline, seeded 21th.
Before their game, Walpole will prepare on improving aspects of their short game such as bunting, dragging and slapping. They will also train to remain defensively strong to prevent making errors that may cost giving up any runs.
“It’s important that we stay focused in our first playoff game because that determines how the rest of our playoffs will go, and it’s important that we all have our heads in the game and we come prepared to play,” junior captain Jacqui Mulcahy said.