By rule, Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) softball games are seven innings long. Too bad the North Division I tournament quarterfinal between Concord-Carlisle High School and Chelmsford High was over much sooner than that.
The host Patriots, the No. 2 seed, busted out six runs in the second inning and held on to beat No. 10 Chelmsford 8-1 before about 200 fans at the high school on Monday.
"Right now, we're just really working together and trying to bring the intensity from the beginning and fight until the end," Concord-Carlisle senior first baseman Georgia Guttadauro said. "I think that's great to build off each and just work as a team."
Next up for the Patriots is a date in the semifinals against an opponent to be determined. Sixth-seeded Lynn Classical will take on either No. 3 Acton-Boxboro or No. 19 Westford Academy in a quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday. The winner of that game will face the Patriots in the semifinals.
Acton-Boxboro and Westford Academy played a first-round game on Monday.
Whomever Concord-Carlisle (21-1) plays, they had better be ready for the Patriots' potent offense. In two tournament games, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 19-1 and clubbed six home runs.
Still, Concord-Carlisle Coach Lisa McGloin said the only stats she worries about are the ones that matter most this time of year: wins and losses.
"They're playing well and I'm sorry I can't answer that question (about statistics)," McGloin said. "Stats don't mean a lot to me. Wins and losses mean a lot and the kids playing well means a lot. And that's it."
Care or not, the Patriots' offensive outburst was the difference against the Lions (14-8). It smacked 13 hits, including three from Guttadauro and two each from senior shortstop Maya Allen, junior pitcher Gayle Miner, senior right fielder Erica Pernice and junior center fielder Anna Kokos.
It was Guttadauro who was the star. She drove in two runs, one on a single in the Patriots' six-run second inning and the other on a towering home run to right field for some extra cushion in the fourth.
"We're all working on our hitting and coach is great about working with us," said Guttadauro, who missed a perfect day at the plate with a strikeout in her final at-bat. "We all have our days."
It seemed like it was everybody's day in the second inning. Concord-Carlisle sent 10 batters to the plate and scored the six runs with the help of five hits and one Chelmsford error.
Pernice reached on an error to lead off the inning and senior third baseman Clare Kavanagh followed with a walk. Kokos sacrificed them both up a base before the hit parade commenced. Allen, senior left fielder Hannah Burling, Miner and Guttadauro all followed with hits.
Allen drove in one with a single, Miner had a two-run double and Guttadauro followed with an RBI single. Two batters later, senior second baseman Jesse Bilafer capped the big inning with an RBI single.
"I just think they saw the pitching, went one time through (the batting order) and made some adjustments and hit (Chelmsford's pitching)," McGloin said.
Not only did the big inning put the Patriots comfortably ahead, but it seemed to settle Miner down in the circle. She was nearly unhittable pitching with the big lead.
In the top of the second, Miner needed to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam to keep the game scoreless. Two errors on Kavanagh at third base and a walk juiced the bases for Chelmsford. But Miner averted danger with a strikeout and foul popout.
After the second, the Patriots' ace retired nine straight batters before giving up her first hit of the game. Meghan McNamara beat out a bunt in the sixth inning to erase Chelmsford's zero in the hit column.
"She got fired up and just started hitting her spots all over the place," McGloin said, of Miner's dominance in the middle innings. "I'm very proud of her."
In all, Miner picked up the complete-game victory with eight strikeouts and one walk. She hit a batter and surrendered Chelmsford's one run on three hits.