BEVERLY – Down 3-0 after half an inning and 3-1 with two outs in the fourth after the first two batters were retired on two pitches, the Dracut Middies were on pins and needles.
Their opponents, the Swampscott Big Blue, entered the MIAA Division 2 North softball tournament as the no. 16 seed and upset no. 1 North Reading, no. 9 Wilmington and no. 5 Burlington to get to the sectional final, and were halfway to pulling off another stunning upset of no. 2 Dracut.
But all of a sudden, the Middies’ bats came to life, and by the end of the fourth, eight straight batters had reached base, and seven of them scored, giving Dracut a lead they would not relinquish en route to a 12-5 win Sunday at Endicott College.
After Lauren Byam (3-for-4, double, RBI, three runs) and Kayla Tyler (1-for-3, RBI) scored on errors to tie the game at 3, Nadia Saari came to the plate with the bases loaded and smacked a 2-2 pitch for a 3-run double into the gap to give the Middies (20-4) the lead for good. Saari finished the game 3-for-4 with three RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base.
Ryley White overcame the early deficit to get the complete game win, scattering eight hits and striking out eight. Her battery mate, catcher Sabrina Morse, went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs.
The Middies will return to Endicott College Tuesday at 5 p.m. to face South sectional champion Norton and Gatorade State Player of the Year Kelly Nelson in the state semifinal. Nelson posted a 0.11 ERA in the regular season, struck out an eye-popping 310 batters in just 125 innings and led the Lancers to an upset of previously-unbeaten Abington in the D2 South sectional final.