May 29, 2024

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Offense Helps Rockets Softball Soar, Baseball Struggling to Score

May 3, 2024 (Updated May 6, 2024) • Needham Softball has scored 19 runs in their last two games, including a thrashing of Natick.

Playing their first season on a brand new field, the redesigned MacLeod Field at DeFazio Park, the Needham Softball team came out the gates on fire, then cooled off a little, before finding their offensive stroke the last two games. For Needham Baseball, however, scoring runs has been more of a challenge, with their game on May 1st against Newton North the case in point.

Not that Rockets Baseball has struggled in every game, as their previous contest, two days prior at Natick, yielded near double digit runs as Needham beat the Red Hawks 9-3. But on their home field against the Tigers, Needham left 11 runners on base as they fell 3-1.

Softball, meanwhile, won their first four games of the season, before a 9-2 loss at home to St. Paul, broadcast live on The Needham Channel, back on April 17th started a four game losing streak, culminating with a 10-9 defeat at Milton on April 26th. But then on Monday, with the live cameras of TNC once again rolling, the Rockets’ bats finally unloaded, beating Natick 9-0.

That offensive explosion began in the bottom of the first, as Maddie Navales led off the game getting to first when she was hit by the pitcher. Emma Ching then worked a walk, with both runners advancing on a passed ball while Maddie Baker was at the plate. With two runners in scoring position and no one out, Baker delivered with a sweet two run single to put Needham on top. Baker, who reached 100 hits on her Rockets career in the April 17th game against St. Paul, scored later in the inning, on a sacrifice by Morgan Kraft.

Needham scored two runs in the second inning as Ching grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Kaitlyn Cheng, then Baker drove home her third run of the game, an RBI single scoring Navales again. Baker, a senior headed for Bentley College next year to play softball, was 3-for-4 on the game with three RBI, two runs scored. The second time she came home was in the sixth inning, on a two run double by Olivia Kirschner.

By that point, the Rockets were already up big, after scoring two more runs in the fourth inning. Cheng scored for the second time in the game, on a sac fly hit by Navales. Then Ching came home on a Kelsey Pittman RBI single. Pittman would also score in the 7th, on Kirschner’s double.

Cheng had a complete game shutout, going the distance for the Rockets, who would then travel to Newton North on May 1st, beating the Tigers 10-4, improving their record to 5-4 on the season. Needham improved to 6-4 on Friday, May 3rd with another walloping of the Red Hawks, 14-2 at Natick. They will be back at home to face Wellesley on Monday, May 6th.

During Wednesday’s Baseball game, Needham went down early, with Noah Sprinsky giving up two runs in the top of the first inning. After hitting both Dom Maiocoa and Ryan Huckabone, then loading the bases on an error hit by Sam Perron, Danny Tambascia drove in two on a single, though Perron was out trying to get to third.

Sprinsky got out of the inning with no further damage, but only lasted two innings. George Mutrie came on in relief in the third inning an after surrendering a leadoff double to Tambascia, allowed in a third run on a sacrifice hit by Luis Javier Hernandez.

The lone Needham run came in the fourth inning, as Adam Hess drove in Alex Giancola with an RBI single. The five through seven hitters for the Rockets particularly struggled at the plate, going 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts by Newton North’s pitchers, the last two of those being the last two batters of the game.

On Friday, the Rockets bounced back in a big way, beating Boston Latin 7-0 thanks to the bats coming up big, as did Thomas Buckley, who pitched a complete game, one hit shutout, while also giving up just one walk. Needham is now 4-7 on the season, having dropped a 5-4 contest Saturday at Newton South. They have three more road games before coming home on Wednesday, May 15th against Framingham.

For highlights of both Softball vs. Natick and Baseball vs. Newton North, here’s Needham Channel Sports Producer Kristen Connors:

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The highlights from this story ran as part of the Needham Channel News, a weekly newscast airing on The Needham Channel every Thursday at 7:30pm. The Needham Channel News can be found on the Community Channel: Comcast 9, Astound 15 and Verizon 29. Most Thursdays it also can be viewed on our HD Channel on Verizon 2129, Astound 613 and streaming on this site.