Bats, defense key in Patriots first round win over Hilltoppers
BENNINGTON — Tuesday's first round matchup for the Mount Anthony softball team started off slow, but the No. 2 seed Patriots got their mojo going to get past No. 15 seed St. Johnsbury with a 13-1 win.
The defending Division I state champions won their ninth straight postseason game, pounding out 13 runs in four innings to advance to the second round of the tournament.
MAU got on the board in the third inning, beginning with a double by first baseman Kaity O'Brien to start off the inning. Trying to get O'Brien over to third, Kaidin Gauthier put down a bunt which turned into two runs for the Patriots. The Hilltoppers committed two errors on the play, allowing both O'Brien and Gauthier to score and break up the scoreless affair.
Still leading 2-0 in the fourth inning, MAU went to the power game when Taylor DiCranian hit a solo bomb to right center to extend the Patriots lead to three.
Later on in the inning, Gauthier smacked a two-run double to the gap in left center before getting thrown out at third trying to stretch it to a triple give MAU a 5-0 leading going into the fifth inning.
Up 5-1 in the fifth, DiCranian put a charge into another one, smacking a bases-clearing double off the wall in center for her third extra base hit of the game, giving her four RBIs on the afternoon and MAU a 8-1 lead.
"I got some great pitches to hit in the middle of the plate and I didn't miss on [either] of them," DiCranian said. "Every time at the plate I just try for a simple base hit, but today I was able to power a couple to the outfield for extra bases and that felt really good."
From her 3-for-3 day at the plate, DiCranian was equally as good from the circle, giving up only one run on five hits in five innings, while only fanning two as her defense was rock solid behind her.
MAU added two more runs in the fifth inning to take a 10-1 lead. The Patriots then extended their lead into the double digits when O'Brien ripped a three-run triple, giving her four RBI and putting a exclamation point on Mount Anthony's victory.
O'Brien finished with a team-high four hits and reached base in all five of her at bats.
"I got a lot of good pitches to hit early on in the count and took advantage of them," O'Brien said. "As an offense, we been doing a good job stringing out hits in a row and that's what we did again today."
Junior Katie Saunders came on in relief of DiCranian to close out the game, pitching two scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
Senior Jordyn Upright had an RBI single in the win.
MAU improves to 16-1 on the season and extend their overall win streak to 13 games.
"I thought our play was solid today and that we got it done out there in all phases of the game," said MAU coach Katie Contrada. "Up and down the lineup, we hit the ball well I thought and we made some plays in the field. This was one step for us to get through in the playoffs, now it's on to the next step, which is continue this play in our quarterfinals matchup."
MAU will host No. 7 Missisquoi in the quarterfinals on Friday at 4:30 p.m.
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