WEST BOYLSTON — The Ayer Shirley (2-3, 1-0 Mid Wach D) softball team’s bats exploded for 12 hits in Friday afternoon’s 8-3 drumming of Mid Wach D foe West Boylston at Goodale Park.
Junior third baseman Megan Esielionis led the way at the dish going 3 for 4 with a triple and two runs scored.
Ayer Shirley senior shortstop Tina Babcock, who made the move from catcher after suffering a fracture in the Panthers’ opening round playoff basketball loss, also tripled and went 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Natalie Carroll will now assume the catching duties for the remainder of the season, and she had a solid day behind the plate. Carroll went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles and a run scored.
The success of the Ayer Shirley offense comes as no surprise to head coach Terri Rollins, who is in her second season as head coach of the program.
“We’ve got awesome hitters,” Rollins said following the win. “Our lineup is loaded, and when we get going, we get going. Tina had an awesome day and Maddie Mitrano nearly had a triple.”
Ayer Shirley junior Kassie Breest took the complete game win in the circle throwing five innings of shutout softball. Breest struck out one and showed masterful control — not surrendering a single walk.
“Kassie was great for us today inside the circle,” Rollins said. “We had the freshman Sydney (Greeno) up just in case Kassie got into some trouble, but she battled through. It is nice to have that luxury of having a backup pitcher. Last year, Kassie really didn’t have that.”
Breest retired the first six batters she faced, capping it off with a full-count strikeout to her counterpart, West Boylston pitcher Sarah Johnson.
Ayer Shirley struck first in the top of the third with three runs on three hits. Leadoff hitter Julie Mailet got the ball rolling with a single down the first base line. Mailet later scored on a blistering triple down the left field line by Babcock. Babcock came across on a triple by Esielionis. Esielionis trotted home on a passed ball to make it 3-0 in favor of Ayer Shirley.
Breest kept her composure after surrendering a one-out double up the middle to West Boylston right fielder Lucia Buduo. The junior hurler rebounded to get the next two Lions on a fly-out to centerfield and a grounder to third to end the inning. Ayer Shirley left Olivia Warila stranded on the bases after she was plunked by a pitch.
Breest got into a bit of a jam in the fourth inning with runners at first and second, but the defense helped her escape the frame unscathed. The Ayer Shirley starter served up two singles in the inning, but the Panther defense backed its ace to keep its lead, 3-0.
The Panthers added an insurance run in the fifth on a Mitrano double down the left field line, which plated Kayla Timmins from third.
Mitrano appeared to have slid under the tag at third, but nevertheless, she was ruled out on the play. Ayer Shirley led 4-0 after 4 1/2 innings.
West Boylston loaded the bases in the third but yet again, Ayer Shirley got of the frame scot-free.
The Panthers added one run on a passed ball in the sixth and two more runs in the seventh to hold off the Lions.
Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout: @EdNiser.