WESTFORD -- Coming off a tough extra-innings defeat to Quabbin the day before, the Groton-Dunstable softball team looked to bounce back on Saturday afternoon by making a short trip down Route 225. The Lady Crusaders appeared poised to claim victory, but Westford Academy put together a rally in the sixth to tie it before pushing across the winning run in the eighth to claim an 8-7 victory in nonleague action
In the bottom of the first, an apparent blown call led to the first two runs for the Lady Grey Ghosts. Amy Livorsi laid down a bunt to open things up and third baseman Ariana Cho fired a throw that was beautifully picked by second baseman Lindsey Werner to get the runner in time, but the runner was called safe. After a sacrifice bunt and strikeout, Christine Raymond walked and took second on a steal. A wild pitch allowed Livorsi to score and an infield single by Meagan Scannell brought home another run to make it 2-0.
After a quiet start, the Lady Crusaders pushed across three runs in the top of third without recording a hit. Lindsay Maloomian led off the inning with a walk and went to second when Emily Figueroa was hit by a pitch. Erin Olson then hit a ground ball to the mound and a throw to third to get the force was wide, allowing Maloomian to score and putting runners on second and third. Alyssa Ash then reached on an error, scoring both Figueroa and Olson to give Groton-Dunstable a 3-2 lead.
Westford Academy answered with a pair of runs in the home half of the frame to take back the advantage. Rachel Desrochers and Emily Chateauneuf singled with one out while Raymond walked to load the bases. Scannell then delivered a two-run single to make it 4-3. Ash did a nice job for the Lady Crusaders, limiting the damage to just a pair of runs by getting a force out and tapper back to the mound to strand a pair of runners.
Single runs in the fourth and fifth innings put Groton-Dunstable back ahead. In the fourth, Annika Liljegren singled, took second on an Ariana Cho base hit, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Maloomian. Liljegren came up big in the fifth as well, scoring Rose O'Malley with a two-out RBI double down the left field line to give the Lady Crusaders a 5-4 edge.
The lead grew in the sixth when Groton-Dunstable manufactured two runs without the benefit of a safety. Celina Antonellis walked and Figueroa followed by dropping down a sacrifice bunt. On the play, the catcher's throw sailed into right field, allowing Antonellis to score and putting Figueroa on third. With one out, Ash delivered a sacrifice fly to make it a 7-4 game.
With their backs against the wall, the Lady Grey Ghosts rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Morgan Ross (single), Desrochers (single) and Chateauneuf (double) all delivered run-scoring hits as Westford Academy tied the game at 7-7.
The Lady Crusaders went in order in the top of the seventh and Westford Academy had a golden opportunity go by the boards in the last of the seventh. Scannell walked, and with one out Alexa Sullivan walked. A sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position with two outs and Ross hit a line shot destined for right field. Werner made a great diving attempt on the play, but the ball came loose when she hit the ground. A scramble ensued to try to get the runner at first, but the throw was late. However, the runner at third broke for the plate late. Laura Bieren fired a strike to Antonellis at the plate to get the runner and send the game to extra innings.
Another 1-2-3 top of the eighth put the Lady Grey Ghosts in position to win in the bottom of the frame, and this time they capitalized. Livorsi singled and on a Desrochers sacrifice bunt alertly went all the way to third. Chateauneuf then followed by lofting a long fly ball that dropped past a draw-in outfield for a hit that gave Westford Academy the win.
"We got a good day out of the plate from Annika, and Emily stepped in and did a nice job for us today," said Asadoorian. "Defensively, I thought we were solid and I saw a lot of good things today. We are still a young team that is learning the ropes and the hope is that we can learn from games like this today and get better."
Liljegren led the Groton-Dunstable offense with a double, single, run scored and run-batted-in. Antonellis singled, walked, stole a base and scored a run while Figueroa scored a pair of runs.