Bridget Mulkeen pitched a one-hit shutout with error-free defense behind her in the final as the Westwood 16U Select Softball team beat Rage Softball from Salisbury, MA, 5-0, to claim the Nor'Easter Classic Tournament in Laconia, NH.
The astonishing performance in the championship game capped an inspiring run, as Westwood battled through 95-degree heat to win four games in Sunday's elimination tournament. Mulkeen pitched all four games, teaming primarily with Alaina Martin behind the plate, and was most dominant as the pressure rose and stakes increased. She faced only 23 batters in the final, striking out nine and walking none.
After going 2-1 in Saturday's pool play, Westwood was seeded sixth in the 12-team field, but poised and confident to make a run.
Sunday's marathon began with a 10-4 win over the East Coast Bandits from Chelmsford. Mary Stronach was 2-3 with three RBI, and Mulkeen helped herself by going 3-3 at the plate. Ava Themistocles tripled to right field and Amelia O'Neill was also 2-2.
Westwood faced the Salem, NH Blue Devils in the quarterfinal and jumped out to a two-run lead, thanks to a searing triple to center from Sasha Marino and an infield single from Themistocles. Salem rallied to take a 3-2 lead, but Westwood answered with a four-run offensive outburst in the fourth, highlighted by a two-out RBI single from Mia Poles, which immediately preceded a three-run home run to right from Addy Keaveney. Two insurance runs were added in the fifth when Stronach singled and Martin tripled. Westwood advanced with an 8-4 win.
Waiting in the semifinal was Voodoo Softball from Leominster, seeded second and undefeated through four games on the weekend. Westwood rode the offensive momentum and jumped out to an 8-0 lead through four. Westwood got nine hits while batting around in the fourth inning, including a monstrous home run to left from Stronach. As it turns out, they'd need all eight runs. The Voodoo rallied to score seven and the tying run was stranded on third base as Mullkeen struck out the final batter of the game to seal an 8-7 win.
Soaked to the skin as the temperature peaked, the spirited contingent of Westwood players and fans hopped in their vehicles and drove to Belmont High School for the championship game against Rage Softball from Salisbury, MA.
Without skipping a beat, Westwood hopped out to a 2-0 lead in the final, thanks to three hits in the second inning. Marino drove home Erika Sabatino to open the scoring and moments later stole home. Mulkeen was laser-focused as she protected the lead, mowing down the Rage with a stellar defense supporting her. Abby Johnsonwas a vacuum at second, Kate McLeish made an outstretched snag in foul territory to end the sixth inning. Keaveney and O'Neill handled fly balls to the outfield.
After getting three insurance runs from her offense in the top of the seventh, Mulkeen finished the day by striking out the game's final batter, setting off an on-field celebration as Westwood won, 5-0. With an impressive 6-1 record this weekend, Westwood improved to 21-6 on the summer through 27 games.