The Newton North softball team is picking up where it left off last year when it walked off with a banner and a trophy.
The Tigers broke through in Division 1 North last spring when senior Elizabeth Wu drilled a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning against Billerica for the program’s first sectional title at Endicott College.
Having graduated four starters from that team, the Tigers have come back strong early this spring with three straight wins – including Friday’s 8-4 victory at King Philip.
“For non-league games this year I wanted to try to schedule the very best teams I could in the state,” North coach Lauren Baugher said. “Our non-league schedule is very tough the first couple of weeks and that was intentional. I wanted to make our first couple of weeks very challenging.”
North has survived those challenges early with wins against Natick and Bishop Feehan and Natick before Friday’s triumph at KP.
The Tigers took command of the game win the sixth inning when Emma Arpino and Mia Patriacca went back-to-back with home runs as Arpino blasted a two-run home run over the fence and Patriacca followed with a solo shot.
It was part of a big day for both overall as Arpino went 3-for-4 with two RBI and Patriacca had two RBI, while earning the win on the mound.
For Patriacca, it has been a smooth transition into the being the ace on the mound after Madison Schaefer – who struck out 14 in last year’s North title game – graduated.
Patriacca struck out nine in a three-hitter against Feehan in the opener before she struck out 10 against Natick. She had four strikeouts against a very tough KP lineup on Friday.
“She’s a machine on the mound,” Baugher said. “She just gets the ball and throws it. She mixes up all her pitches well, and (senior catcher) Kira Flegenheimer has caught her for years so they have a good connection out there.
“She’s hungry and she wants it on the mound. It’s a pleasure watching her pitch.”
Emma MacLean also had a strong game against KP with two hits.
The Tigers were next to face Walpole on Tuesday before two more tough non-league games when they host Westford on Thursday and KP in a Saturday rematch.
Scott Souza can be reached at email@example.com.