Pictured: Blue Devils senior Amalia DeMartino played a flawless, and at times spectacular, game at shortstop and belted a long triple that led to Coginchaug’s first run of the game.
By Marc Silvestrini
DURHAM — While most of their Shoreline Conference competition had already played two games, Coginchaug had yet to start its season due to COVID-19 protocols. On Wednesday, the 2021 Lady Blue Devils finally made their debut.
It was worth the wait.
Led by senior pitcher Kelly Boothroyd, who tossed a tidy two-hit shutout, senior shortstop Amalia DeMartino, who led the game off with a triple which quickly led to the only run Boothroyd would need, and sophomore Jackie Kelly, who had two hits, including a run-scoring triple in Coginchaug’s game-clinching three-run sixth inning, the Devils defeated Old Lyme 4-0.
It was the Wildcats’ first loss of the season in three games.
Old Lyme, a strong team that will likely be in the Shoreline race all season long, had defeated its first two opponents of the season by a combined score of 33-3.
“We played a strong defensive game today and I’m a defensive-oriented coach — we work very hard on that aspect of our game every day at practice — so I’m pleased with our effort today,” Coginchaug coach Steve DeMartino said.
“We didn’t really get the bats going until late in the game, but when Kelly is pitching like she did today, we don’t need to give her a ton of runs.”
Boothroyd, who will be playing softball next year at Simmons University in Boston along with her sister and catcher, Dana, allowed only two Wildcats to reach base. Both runners were standout freshman Emma Bayor, who had two singles in three trips for the visitors. No Wildcat ever got as far as second base.
Boothroyd, who was among the core group that led Coginchaug to the Class S championship game in 2019, fanned seven and walked no one in a dominating performance. Kelly, Dana and Coginchaug diver Elyse Boothroyd are triplets.
“I had my good stuff today, but when you play in front of a defense that’s as good as ours, you don’t really need your best stuff every time you go out there,” she said. “With these guys behind me, I really feel that I don’t have to be perfect with every pitch. I can make a mistake here or there and someone will make the play behind me.
“Pitching can sometimes be a stressful thing, but when you’ve got a great defense it takes a lot of the stress away.”
DeMartino, who will be playing next year at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., led off the game for the Devils by blasting a pitch from Old Lyme starter Victoria Gage to the alley in deep right-center and diving head-first into third for the triple. She was immediately brought home by Natalie Ness, who hit a sacrifice fly to medium centerfield, giving the Devils and Boothroyd a 1-0 lead.
DeMartino also made several dynamic plays at short, the best of which was a diving stab of a high pop to short left in which she peeled back with her back to the infield, stretched for the ball while diving on her stomach and stabbed it just before it hit the grass.
“I didn’t think I was going to reach it, but I figured, ‘How much can diving on the grass hurt?’” she said.
“We’re all super excited to get this season going,” she added. “We’re aware that no one can predict what will happen in the future and you never know when your season might come to a sudden end, so we’re all just looking to go out there and give it everything we’ve got on every play.”
Though the only hint of trouble Boothroyd encountered were Bayor’s two singles — the first coming with one out in the second and the second leading off the fifth — Gage was also pitching a gem, surrendering five hits and no walks through her first five innings of work, keeping the score 1-0 through five.
But in the sixth, Coginchaug’s bats came alive, scoring three more runs for Boothroyd to work with. With one out, Ava Marrena reached second on a throwing error and was brought home when Boothroyd aided her own cause by launching a rocket to the right-center gap in just about the same place where DeMartino had hit her first-inning triple.
After Old Lyme coach Tim Gavin removed the tiring Gage in favor of Bayor, Kelly hammered a run-scoring triple down the right-field line to score pinch runner Allison Sambor, making it 3-0.
Kelly then sprinted home on a wild pitch to score the game’s final run.
“She (Boothroyd) has four really good pitches and we had a hard time putting the ball in play against her and getting base runners,” Gavin said. “I knew they’d be one of the stronger teams in the Shoreline – Boothroyd is a real good pitcher and DeMartino can hit – and they proved it today.
“Obviously, you’d like to win every game, but I think we learned something today about ourselves,” he added. “This was our first game against a top team and it was a 1-0 game through five innings. That’s something we can build on.”
Old Lyme will host Westbrook on Friday at 11 a.m. while the Blue Devils travel to Moodus for a 4 p.m. game against Hale-Ray.
OL 000 000 0–0 2 1
C 100 003 x–4 7 0
Batteries: OL – Gage, Bayor (5); C- K.Boothroyd. WP: K.Boothroyd; LP: Gage. 2B: C–K.Boothroyd. 3B: C–DeMartino, Kelly. Records: OL 2-1; Coginchaug 1-0.