With the tying run on base, Milford head coach Brian Mackey came out to the circle to settle Smith down and his words worked as she sizzled a letter-high fast ball past the next batter to quell the threat.
“Krista had a great hit. At a lot of fields that would have been (a home run),” said Ciccolo. “We loaded the bases and we did some great things but we just couldn’t score. In the end, we had to score to make this a game and we just couldn’t make that happen. (Smith) can really shut a team down when she needs to.”
Milford jumped on some first-inning Central jitters to take a lead it would not lose. Sam Bonvino got things rolling with a double, moving to third on a wild pitch and scoring on a passed ball. Rachel Levine rifled a two-bagger to right field that plated courtesy runner Sarah Jacques with a key early run.
From there, sophomore Olivia Antczak settled down and corralled the Scarlet Hawk offense. Scattering four hits over the final six innings, Antczak gave up just one more run in the fifth to keep the Raiders in contention.
“That’s happened occasionally this season,” Antczak said of her rocky start. “I think it took an inning to settle in, and then I was able to work all of my pitches.”
On her role in Central’s third trip to the Final Four, Antczak said, “I didn’t expect us to go this far, but I definitely struggled a little more this year than I did last year. Last year was kind of like smooth sailing, but this year, I had some struggles.”
Antczak indicated that high personal expectations formed that opinion and that she looked forward to improving her game this summer with the Diamond Gems out of Nashua.