Cumberland tops West Side for softball crown
Even after a mercy-rule loss the first time they met, Warwick West Side thought it could compete with Cumberland if it got another shot during last week’s Little League softball 12-year-old state tournament.
West Side did just that, but it still wasn’t enough.
Cumberland, the defending state champs, jumped out to an early lead in Thursday’s championship and got a dominant pitching performance from Alex Pina and Jocelyn Bodington to clinch the title again with a 3-1 victory. West Side battled until the end, threatening in both the fifth and sixth innings, but the comeback never got off the ground.
“I told them after the game that they shouldn’t hold their heads down, because they gave it everything they had,” said West Side manager Frank Brown. “They played a great game. It just wasn’t enough.”
West Side ends the summer as the state runner-up, with a district championship to look back on. The all-stars had success at states, as well, finishing 2-2.
They just couldn’t get past Cumberland.
On Thursday, Cumberland scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings. Pina took a no-hitter into the fifth before getting into some trouble. Bodington worked out of the jam then closed the door in the sixth to seal the victory.
“Like I told the girls, we came into this game with nothing to lose,” Brown said. “We were facing a team that hasn’t lost in a few years. We knew what they bring. They’re a very, very talented team. We told our girls, ‘Go out there and give 100 percent and that’s all we can ask.’”
Cumberland jumped in front 1-0 in the second inning when Chloe Kessler smacked an 0-1 pitch over the fence in left-center for a solo home run. It was the first hit West Side starting pitcher Katrina Kazen had allowed.
In the third inning, Cumberland made it 2-0. Cassidy Carr reached on a bunt single when the throw to first hit her in the back. Abby Goncalves was then hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second with nobody out.
Renee Lacroix followed with a pop-up near the second base bag. The infield fly rule was called but the pop-up fell in, and the Cumberland runners took off. Both sides were confused but when the dust settled, the only out recorded was on the infield fly call, and Carr was in with another run.
Cumberland tacked on a third run in the fourth when Hailey Ballou doubled, tagged up for third on a fly ball and then scored when West Side tried to get her at third and the throw sailed away.
The defensive miscues hurt, but unlike the last meeting with Cumberland, West Side didn’t let the trouble snowball. Kazen retired eight of the last nine batters she faced, and the only one that reached base was thrown out trying to steal.
That set the stage for a comeback, and West Side did its best. Lexi Brown broke up Pina’s no-hit bid on a bloop single with one out in the fifth. Danaja Alpaio followed with a line drive to left and Kaylyn Cieselski worked a walk to load the bases.
Cumberland went to its bullpen and brought in Bodington, a hard-throwing lefty. She jumped ahead of Giana Altieri 0-2, but Altieri worked the count full then took a walk to force in a run, making it 3-1.
West Side seemed to be in business, with the bases still loaded and top hitters Olivia King and Kazen due up.
But Bodington wasn’t having it. She struck out King and Kazen on a total of just seven pitches to end the threat.
“They always bring good pitching,” Frank Brown said. “They got at least three pitchers deep. They make the plays behind the pitchers too. They’re solid.”
West Side threatened once more in the sixth. Karly Evans singled off Bodington then stole second. But Bodington induced a pop-out and a ground ball to first to end the game.
“We certainly had our opportunities,” Brown said. “We just couldn’t capitalize. That’s unfortunate but that’s the way the game goes.”
Cumberland now advances to the Little League Softball Eastern Region Tournament in Bristol, Conn., which begins Friday.
West Side will look back on a great summer of softball.
“This was a very successful season for us,” Brown said. “We’re very pleased. The girls have nothing to be ashamed of. They worked hard and like we explained to them, being runners-up in the state of Rhode Island is a pretty cool thing.”