November 25, 2014
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In tough stretch, Pats trying to put it all together
MORGAN ALMON

A chance to snap out of a funk was sliding into more of the same for the Pilgrim softball team Saturday night.

Then rain quite literally washed it away.

A downpour hit Johnston Memorial Park in the sixth inning of a 3-3 game between the Patriots and Johnston. The game was canceled and will be restarted from the beginning on a date to be determined.

“I didn’t like the way that game was going,” said Pilgrim head coach Bill Aquilante. “So I kind of don’t mind getting a do-over.”

The Patriots hope they’re playing better when the do-over rolls around.

Because it’s been a tough stretch.

With a 9-2 victory over Burrillville on April 21, the Pats moved to 4-2, but they haven’t won since. They went a full week without a game, lost junior stand-out Ellen McDonnell to an injury and immediately hit the skids when they returned to action. The Pats lost close games to Scituate and North Smithfield, but were blown out by West Warwick and North Smithfield.

“We looked good after the Burrillville game,” Aquilante said. “We were sitting at 4-2. Then Ellen got hurt and it’s just been a domino effect. We’ve missed her bat and her presence in the lineup. We just haven’t played as well.”

McDonnell is expected back before the end of the regular season, but the Pats want to start taking steps in the right direction again right now.

“Obviously, we need to play better and I need to coach better,” Aquilante said. “To quote Bill Belichick, we need to execute in every phase of the game.”

The common thread in Pilgrim’s slide has been defense. Aquilante has coined the term “unearned bases” to describe mistakes that may not go in the scorebook as errors, but result in key extra bases.

And the Pats have given up a lot of them.

“We’re just giving up too many unearned bases,” Aquilante said. “Instead of first and second, it’s second and third because we make a bad decision – things like that.”

West Warwick and Prout took advantage. Pilgrim was better against North Smithfield, who’s 12-0. The Pats lost 2-0, but got a strong performance by pitcher Morgan Almon.

“I was proud after that game,” Aquilante said. “We were pleased.”

Almon, a freshman, has consistently pitched well for the Pats. Madison Balutowski has been a strong presence at the top of the lineup, and McKenzie Barone has emerged as one of the team’s leading hitters. Senior Kelsey Johnston is six hits away from 100 for her career.

For all the good things, though, the Pats just haven’t been able to regroup. They were set to play first-place East Greenwich on Monday, with results unavailable at press time. After that, they’ll host 1-12 Ponaganset on Wednesday.

“I’m looking at getting to 7-9,” Aquilante said. “You don’t want to set a goal of a losing record, but 7-9 would get us into the playoffs. That’s what we need to aim for.”


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