Sentinels walk off with season opener

Sentinels walk off with season opener

Smithfield sophomore Valentina Romeo delivered a walkoff single in the bottom of the seventh inning that lifted her team to a season-opening 4-3 victory over Lincoln last Saturday night at Whipple Field. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Fresh off win over Lions, sophomore-ladened softball team seeks return to playoffs

SMITHFIELD – Valentina Romeo’s two-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning drove in the run that helped the Smithfield High softball team walk off with a 4-3 win over Lincoln in its Division I season opener on a frigid Saturday evening under the lights of Whipple Field.

The Sentinels had led throughout the game, but the Lions tied the score with two outs in the top of the seventh inning on a throwing error in the infield that brought home two runs.

But the Sentinels had their big guns leading off the home half of the inning. With two outs, Allie Stevens singled into shallow left field and stole second to move into scoring position. Shay Costa then walked, and after both runners advanced a base on a passed ball, Romeo lofted a short fly to right field that fell in for a hit and allowed Stevens to score the winning run.

The Sentinels entered this season graduating only four seniors from a team that reached the state playoffs. It was Robert Sasso’s first season as the head coach, and he was trying to implement his style.

“Last year was good,” Sasso remarked. “Last year, we talked about building blocks, so we started out a little slow at the beginning of the season, but picked it up towards the end and ended up making the playoffs. We set goals at the beginning of the season and were able to accomplish them, so I thought the season went well.”

Two key losses to graduation were All-State shortstop Allie Beaton, who is currently playing at Assumption College, and ace pitcher Megan Long. Kasey Ruo, a sophomore, played second base last year as a freshman, and Sasso said that her primary position was shortstop, so it made sense to put her there this year.

Costa is now the number one pitcher, while her counterpart behind the plate is Meghan Laflamme, and the infield rounds out with senior captain Ally Oliveira at third, Ruo at short, Caitlyn Bourgeois at second, and Stevens at first. Oliveira went 3-for-4 in the victory over Lincoln.

Romeo is the left fielder and will also see some innings on the mound, said Sasso. Senior captain Sam Gianfrancesco is in center field, and in right, the Sentinels have a freshman, Olivia Vendittelli.

“We were fortunate last year,” added Sasso. “I was able to start six freshmen, which gave them a lot of experience. This year, we’re very, very young, predominately all sophomores. The positive thing about it is (we’re) building a program. That’s my goal going forward. Hopefully, this group will gel. We may have a slow start, but I expect good things from this team because of last year’s experience and getting into the playoffs.”

This week promises to be a challenging one for the Sentinels. On Tuesday, they contested Moses Brown, which Sasso thinks is the top team going into the season, and on Thursday at 4 p.m., they will return to their home field on the school’s complex to battle defending state champion North Kingstown.

The Sentinels will play one more regular-season contest at the Whipple Field complex, a Senior Night game in late May.

“This year, we always set our goals as making the playoffs and basically getting better everyday,” he said. “That’s our team philosophy, to get better everyday. And then there’s team unity. We do everything as a team.”

Smithfield sophomore starting pitcher Shay Costa gets ready to deliver a pitch to the plate.