LYNN — An outstanding pitching performance by Angelia Pepe backed by a balanced offense powered the St. Mary’s softball team to a 13-0 win in its season opener against Manchester Friday at Breed Middle School.
Pepe, a sophomore right-hander, threw all five innings for the Spartans in the shortened game. She allowed just two hits with 11 strikeouts.
“It was a great start for Angelia,” Spartans coach Paige Licata said. “She’s a very talented pitcher and she’s young too, which is impressive. To come out in the cold where it can be tough for pitchers I was excited to see it. She was using all her pitches and working them out. It was good to see her playing so well in the first game.”
The Spartans got it done in just about every way possible at the plate with Taylor Sullivan (2-for-3, four RBI) leading the way. Christina Nowicki (0-for-2 with a walk and sacrifice bunt) and Sam Porazinski (2-for-3) each drove in a run. Lily Newhall (1-for-3 with a walk) and Felicia D’Alessandro (2-for-2 with a walk) each scored three runs.
“It was great to see,” Licata said of the balanced offense. “That’s one of my biggest things I emphasized this year is offense. We’ve kind of been untapped the past couple years for getting runs. That’s our big emphasis this year. It was fun to see all the different ways we were able to contribute offensively. It was great to see the hits, the savviness and the disciplined play. A lot of things we liked and that we can build on.
“We laid a foundation here in the first game for the rest of the season,” Licata said. “I’m just hoping we can keep building on it and not settle.”
Pepe was untouchable to start, striking out eight in the first three innings and allowing just an infield single on a slow grounder.
The Spartans’ offense got off to a fast start in the first inning. A walk by Nowicki to start and a single by Newhall put runners on with no outs. A passed ball brought Nowicki to the plate and an infield error scored Newhall to put St. Mary’s ahead 2-0 after one.
St. Mary’s continued to capitalize on the Hornets mistakes to start the second inning. Alyssa Grossi and D’Alessandro each scored on passed balls in the inning and Nowicki brought home Katie O’Neil on a sacrifice bunt to stretch the lead to 5-0.
Later in the inning Newhall drew a walk and Jordan Sullivan singled to put runners in scoring position for Taylor Sullivan. The senior first baseman delivered, ripping a two-out double to left to drive in a pair of runs and put the Spartans ahead 7-0.
The Spartans didn’t let up in the third. D’Alessandro reached on a bunt single and stole second and third base before scoring on a passed ball. Later in the inning Taylor Sullivan drove in two more runs on a single with the bases loaded and Porazinski laced a single to drive in another run and put St. Mary’s ahead 11-0.
St. Mary’s half of the fourth inning was much of the same, with D’Alessandro stealing home and Sophia Lebert scoring on an infield error to put the Spartans ahead 13-0. Needing just three more outs to close the game in the fifth, Pepe forced a fly ball and struck out her last two batters to clinch the win.
“It definitely feels good to get a win,” Licata said. “It’s obviously cold so it can be tough to get yourself going. That was one of the things we were looking for. I’m proud of them the way they came out. That was something we wanted. We’ve been making sure this season that we come out and play our best all the time. I was excited to see that in the first game. It was a full effort.”
The Spartans are back on the diamond next Monday (3:30) at Central Catholic League foe Arlington Catholic.