BRIDGEWATER — Junior pitcher Bella Erti and the North Attleboro High softball team did not receive the reward they so richly deserved.
The No. 1-seeded Trojans of Bridgewater-Raynham High School strung together three hits in the ninth inning, plating the lone run of the MIAA Division 1 South Tournament quarterfinal-round game to repel the Rocketeers 1-0.
“She pitched great,” Wallace said of Erti, who took the tough-luck loss after scattering six hits in nine innings with three strikeouts. “Our defense played well, but, you know, you have to put the ball in play more and make them make plays.”
The top-seeded Trojans (21-1) rallied in the ninth inning after both No. 2 batter Cecelia Barron and No. 3 batter Summer Sheerin slashed singles to lead off the frame.
The Rocketeers almost got out of the jam. Rocketeer junior shortstop Alex Moulson fielded a ground ball and threw to third for a force-out, then second baseman Emily Nardelli got the second out of the inning with another fielder’s choice.
Just one out away from forcing inning No. 10, Trojan senior Autumn Jacques connected on an RBI single to score Sheerin and eliminate the Rockeeters from the postseason.
The No. 8-seeded, Davenport Division champion Rocketeers (16-6) were limited to merely two hits by B-R pitcher Julia Ferry. Erti kept the Trojans handcuffed on just two hits as well through seven innings.
All told, North was limited to two hits, as Ferry retired 15 Rocketeers on strikeouts over nine innings. She retired the Big Red in order in the second, fifth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
“We tried to do some things,” Wallace said of the offense. “We tried to bunt, we tried to steal, and when they (B-R) had to make the plays, they did. That’s a sign of a good team.”
Erti retired the B-R side in order in the first, third, fifth and sixth innings, and got out of jams in the seventh and eighth. In the seventh, after a one-out double down the left-field line, Erti struck out the next batter and got the third out on a ground ball.
In the eighth, after the Trojans used a one-out single and advanced to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt, Erti induced an infield fly for the third out of the frame.
Nardelli led the defensive effort behind Erti with four assists and one putout. Erti had five assists and two putouts, while third baseman Annabelle Hebard had four assists and one putout in foul territory for the third out of the sixth.
Ferry retired seven straight extending from the first to third innings, and later retired 16 of the last 17 batters she faced, the only other being a sixth-inning walk to North’s Abby Gallagher.
North’s leadoff batter, Olivia Capobianco, broke up Ferry’s no-hit bid in the third with a single to right field, but did not reach scoring position, as she was thrown out attempting to steal second.
Ashley Cangiano roped a one-out single to center in the fourth inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but a strikeout and fly-out ended the frame — the lone time North had a runner in scoring position.
“She’s a good pitcher and she’s had a great senior year,” Wallace said of Ferry. “She got up in the count and got us to chase on some bad pitches, but I thought Bella (Erti) went toe-to-toe with her.”