The Toll Gate softball team had its busiest stretch of the season last week, with games on four consecutive days. It was a roller-coaster but when it was over, the Titans were comfortably into the Division I playoffs and riding a strong performance into the season’s final week.
Courtney Marsh tossed a one-hit shutout, the defense shined and the offense did just enough as the Titans edged Barrington 1-0 on Thursday afternoon to finish their four-game stretch with a 2-2 mark. The Titans are 5-9 heading into games this week against North Kingstown and Bay View.
“Ups and downs, but we ended on a good note,” said Toll Gate head coach Shana Willis. “Hopefully, this really takes us into next week.”
The Titans’ busy week got off to a rough start when they lost to La Salle 13-3 on Monday. They rebounded with a 3-2 victory over Warwick Vets on Tuesday before falling 4-0 to Cranston West on Wednesday.
But Thursday belonged to Marsh.
Making her fourth start of the week, the junior saved her best for last. Barrington has scored the third-fewest runs in Division I, and Marsh didn’t let the Eagles break out for much of anything. She took a perfect game into the fifth inning, where Kate Carrara broke it up with a line drive to left field. Marsh responded with a strikeout and didn’t allow another hit.
“She really pitched a great game,” Willis said. “Today was her fourth day in a row. I asked her every day, ‘How are you feeling? Are you sore? Loose? Tired?’ She knows to be honest and she said, ‘No, coach, I’m fine.’ I looked for signs of fatigue and I didn’t see anything. She was on. She was on right from warm-ups.”
Marsh struck out six and didn’t allow a runner past second base. The Eagles threatened for a moment in the seventh when Sofia Angelini reached on an error and took second on a sacrifice bunt, but Marsh struck out Sarah O’Grady on three pitches then got Bridget Palm to pop out to Jamie Hopgood at first for the final out.
“She hit her spots,” Willis said. “She was ahead in the count on pretty much every batter, which allows you to play around with them. That helps. She’s throwing the ball really well.”
Barrington pitcher Rebecca Egge was nearly as good as Marsh, allowing just five hits and keeping the Titans off the board for three innings.
But Toll Gate got the run it needed. In the bottom of the fourth, Hopgood led off with a solid single to right field. She was forced at second on a ground ball by Courtney Conklin, but Conklin reached. Karley Mallette followed with a ground ball up the middle. Egge fielded and fired wide of second, allowing Conklin to take third and Mallette to reach.
The first-and-third situation was just what Toll Gate needed. Mallette broke for second and drew a throw, allowing Conklin to scamper home with the only run of the game.
“We were able to make something happen,” Willis said. “Barrington made some really nice plays. We hit the ball hard, but their defense was solid. They made all the plays.”
The shut-out was Toll Gate’s third in the last six games. At 5-9 the Titans were sitting in 13th place in Division I, where 16 teams make the playoffs.
They’ll face a tough challenge Tuesday against undefeated North Kingstown, but they’ll have a shot to finish strong Thursday when they visit 5-8 Bay View.
“We were .500 this week,” Willis said. “If we go .500 next week, we’ll head into the playoffs on a positive note. The first game is always the big one. Hopefully, we’ll have enough enthusiasm to get us through.”