Newport softball’s first loss ends strong season

By BEN HOOKE

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 06-07-2024 4:09 PM

One tough inning was all it took to end the Newport Tigers’ dreams of an undefeated softball season.

The top-seeded Tigers were slow out of the gate, allowing three runs before getting a chance to bat, and never recovered.

Fourth-seeded Gilford prevailed, 6-4, on a cloudy, windy afternoon on the campus of Plymouth State University.

“Made some errors we can’t make at this time,” Newport coach Stanley Hannum said after the game. “They played their game, and we didn’t play ours.”

Ultimately, every attempt by Newport to grab control of the contest was answered by more solid fielding and clutch hitting from the Golden Eagles.

The Tigers struggled at the plate, failing to mount consistent rallies against Gilford pitcher Isabelle Dow’s assault from the circle. The sophomore struck out 11 batters and never let the Tigers lineup get into a rhythm. Newport did not produce a multi-run inning.

It was just the fifth time all season the prolific Newport offense had been held to a single-digit run output.

After falling behind early, the Tigers did their best to chip away at the lead. The deficit was cut to two as starter Tanya Sanchez settled into a groove from the circle, but Newport had its best chance dashed by the defensive play of the afternoon in the bottom of the fourth inning.

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With the bases loaded and just one out, Peyton Blackington turned on a pitch and sent a line drive to left that looked certain drive in runs. But Gilford outfielder Mia Macaicone, who appeared out of position, made a spectacular leaping catch, then bounced up to gun down Katie Sharron at second base.

What looked like a game-tying double became a momentum-crushing double play.

Newport never drew closer. Gilford reestablished a three-run cushion with a two-run double from Sadie Lydick in the top of the fifth inning.

Trailing by two in their final at-bat, the Tigers’ leadoff hitter drew a walk, but a sacrifice bunt, a line drive and a strikeout ended the game and Newport’s season.

Newport graduate three starters: Tanya Sanchez, outfielder Katie Sharron and catcher Emmah O’Connor. The rest of the roster is eligible to return next spring to challenge for the school’s first ever softball championship. The Tigers last reached a state final in 2001, when they fell to Littleton.