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Nipmuc Softball Rallies for Quarterfinal Win

The Nipmuc softball team trailed by two runs heading into the bottom of the fifth inning of Monday's district quarterfinal against Notre Dame of Worcester. In a tough spot, the Warriors turned to their seniors for leadership. "The seniors got into the circle after they scored their three runs to take the lead and they said 'girls we can still do this, we just have to get out there and grind the hits out,'" said head coach Bernie Curtis.
Nipmuc did just that, scoring twice in the fifth and plating the winning run in the 6th inning of a 5-4 win that moved them onto Tuesday's district semifinal. "It was an exciting game," Curtis said. "The girls were really up for it. We had been to the quarterfinal before so they knew what it took, but this is the first time this group has gotten to the semifinal, so it's very exciting."
Nipmuc used all parts of its lineup in the comeback. Sophomore slugger Kayla Peabody, who had homered earlier in the game, stepped to the plate with runners on second and third in the last of the fifth. She laced a single to score two runs and tie the game at four. After starting pitcher Jackie Cortese kept Notre Dame off the board in the top of the sixth, the bottom part of the Nipmuc batting order came through in a big way. Grace Caughey, who had three hits on the day, started the rally with a single and Emily Ambrosino followed with a base hit of her own. After Molly Bergstrom reached on a bunt single to load the bases, Meghan Elliot pushed across the eventual winning run with a sacrifice fly.
"Kayla [Peabody] has really come on strong, her bat has helped us when others have been struggling and it helped out big time on Monday," Curtis said. "We have girls at the top of the order like Meghan [Elliot] and Danielle [Schiloski] who get on base and our power hitters can drive them across."
One of those power hitters, senior Kristen Niland, is leading the team with a batting average north of .430. Elliot is hitting over .400 while Schiloski and Peabody check in in the high .300s. "The fact that we have such consistency in our lineup helps because we have a number of younger girls and when they are all hitting, it helps us have great balance through the batting order," Curtis said.
Nipmuc has also been strong in the circle. Cortese has a 1.38 ERA in more than 135 innings pitched. A starter since her freshman year, she is headed to Franklin Pierce to play softball next year. "Jackie has been working well with (catcher] Danielle (Schiloski]," Curtis said. "She hits her spots and has a great defense behind her."
Niland is also going to the collegiate ranks, having signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Maine. The Warriors will also lose Schiloski, who will attend Anna Maria College, and Bergstrom, who is headed to Merrimack. But seniors and underclassmen alike are hoping to extend their season by a few more games.
"I could see it towards the end of the season, this team has been peaking at the right time," Curtis said. "At the end of the season, the expectations start to climb higher and higher and they want to keep going. We have a great group of girls, and they love the game of softball."
For updates on Nipmuc Softball run in the playoffs visit TownCrier.us and click on Sports.




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