Scituate returns to D-II

Scituate returns to D-II

Scituate starting pitcher Hailey Venturini was magnificent in tossing a one-hitter on Monday afternoon in her team’s 5-1 victory over South Kingstown at Manning Field. Venturini struck out 13 batters and walked four. (Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)
Unbeaten Div. III champs a season ago, softball team opens with defeat to Rogers, comeback win over S.K.

NORTH SCITUATE – Four days after getting blanked on two hits in a season-opening defeat to Rogers, the Scituate High softball team saw its bats come alive in its home opener against South Kingstown and pave the way to a 5-1 victory on Monday afternoon at Manning Field.

The Spartans are back in Division II after spending last spring in D-III and handily capturing the championship by posting a 20-0 record, the first undefeated season in the program’s history.

The Spartans graduated five players from that team, and this year, they have just one senior, Jane Owens, the starting shortstop, who will continue her softball career next spring at nearby Bryant University. Even though he has a young ballclub in a new league, head coach John Lickert wants to see his ballclub make the playoffs.

“We lost five starters, but we have a pitcher back from last year and a really good pitcher coming in,” added Lickert. “We’ll be competitive; we just have to hit. It’s a big adjustment coming from D-III to D-II because you face better pitching, but we’ll see what happens.”

In addition to Owens, the Spartans have only two other returning starters, third baseman Madison Forti and catcher Bailey Lomastro.

“Jane led the team in almost every (offensive) category last year, so we’ll need her to do the same thing again, and hopefully, she’ll have a big year,” Lickert said. “She’s a big threat. But the other kids are swinging the bats. They’ll have their growing pains, but hopefully by the end of the year, we’ll be better and back in the playoffs and hopefully win a game or two.”

It was a frigidly cold day in Newport when the Spartans took on Rogers. Lickert said the story of that game was strikeouts, as both teams piled them up and teamed up to whiff 26 batters. Rogers only collected six hits, but took advantage of walks and a key hit to pull out the win.

With the sun out and slightly warmer temperatures on Monday, the Spartans fell behind quickly in the top of the first and trailed by a 1-0 score, but ended up rallying for five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

With one out, Skylar Dumas worked a walk and Megan Vanner hit an RBI double past the dive of the right fielder to tie the score. Liberty Dumas then walked, and Owens hit a line drive over the right fielder’s head for a double that scored Skylar Dumas with the go-ahead run.

MacKennzie Pheland then hit a sacrifice fly to shallow right field that allowed Liberty Dumas to tag up and score Scituate’s third run. Owens then scored on Hailey Venturini’s double to center, and Venturini came home on Forti’s triple to the right-field fence.

Venturini, who was the starting pitcher, was almost lights out after the first inning and ended up tossing a one-hitter that saw her strike out 13 batters and walk four. Two of those walks came in the first inning, which saw the Rebels score their run on a wild pitch.

“We have a freshman, Hailey, and Allison (Roy) from last season, who is a sophomore,” Lickert said of his two pitchers. “We have a young pitching staff, but we’re pretty good on defense, and with good pitching, we should be in games. We just have to hit the ball. Each game, we’ll see a decent pitcher.”

As for his young team of 13 players, “It’s good for the other kids to get to play,” Lickert added. “They’ll learn and make mistakes just like everybody else. You just have to get better. The first game, we walked too many (batters) and didn’t hit the ball well at all. But it’s early. Everyone is in the same boat.”

The Spartans will continue to face teams they haven’t seen in a couple of years, but Lickert said his team knows Burrillville and Ponaganset. Prout, South Kingstown, and St. Raphael Academy are really good, he added, and Rogers could be one of the top teams. Lickert also noted that all of those programs have a junior varsity team, while his does not.

The Spartans, who were scheduled to pay a visit to SRA on Wednesday afternoon in Pawtucket, will host Barrington next Monday at 4:30 p.m.