By Dave Dyer
---- — SALEM — Senior Rachel Morrissey may not be the vocal type, but her bat has been making noise for the Salem’s softball team much of the season.
The overshadowed younger sister of former standout Brenna, who is currently a stalwart infielder at Georgia State, Morrissey was the hitting star yesterday in a 3-2 nine-inning victory over Timberlane in a terrific battle of two of the top teams in the region.
As the designated player (hitter), Morrissey had an RBI double and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Brittany Wallace to open the scoring for Salem (8-2) in the second and then scored the winning run in the ninth on a Rachel Murphy RBI hit after reaching base on a sharp single to left with one out.
“Rachel’s a captain and a quiet leader on and off the field,” said Salem coach Harold Sachs. “She’s had a lot of big hits for us.”
Coming one day after a 2-0 loss to Concord, Morrissey had one thought when she came to the plate in the ninth.
“Just to get on base anyway I could,” said Morrissey. “We were excited about this game after yesterday and I thought we regrouped and came together.”
As to whether she thinks she’s been overshadowed by her older sister, Morrissey said: “Not usually ... I’ve always looked up to her and use her as a role model.”
Morrissey’s final run made a winner of Kaitlyn Arsenault, who pitched a perfect final two innings in relief, striking out three, in relief of sophomore Katie Dawson.
Dawson took a 2-0 lead into the seventh, thanks partly due to some outstanding defense, highlighted by a sensational catch in deep left field by Meaghan Williams with two runners on base in the first inning.
“That was huge,” said Sachs. “Potentially, we would have been down 2-0 with a young pitcher on the mound.”
But the Salem defense faltered a bit in the seventh. Two errors, including a two-base throwing error, were followed by an RBI single by Masha Lange that tied the score, sending the game into extra innings and setting the stage for Morrissey’s clutch hitting. Freshman Kate Hoadley pitched a fine game for the Owls (10-1), who dropped their first game of the season. Through seven innings, she had given up just five hits and no walks while striking out five. She was also the recipient of some fine errorless defense.
Even on the winning hit in the ninth, center fielder Caroline Salvaneschi nearly made a fantastic diving catch before the ball trickled off her glove. Lange made several fine plays at shortstop and Jennifer Trodella made a terrific catch in right field.
“The intensity of play and the quality of play in the field makes me think we’ll be playing (Timberlane) them again,” said Sachs. “Their pitcher is a freshman playing at a senior level and they’ve got a solid team.”
By the same token, Timberlane coach Jim Clavette was far from devastated by the loss.
“We have character and I like the way we came back,” said Clavette. “I didn’t expect to be undefeated ... I think this game will help us and we’ll grow from it.”
agateHed:Salem 3, Timberlane 2
agateText:Timberlane (2): Lange ss 4-0-1, Salvaneschi cf 3-0-1, Nye lf 4-0-1, Madison Bishop ss 4-0-1, Meg Bishop pr 4-0-1, Collins pr 0-0-0, Durkee 2b 4-0-0, Freeman 3b 4-1-2, Harnois dp 2-0-0, Barrett dp 2-1-0, Trodella rf 3-0-1, McKinnon ph 1-0-0, Hoadley p 0-0-0. Totals 35-2-8
agateText:Salem (3): Cloutier ss 4-0-1, Rastello 2b 4-0-0, Latham 3b 3-0-1, O’Brien 1b 4-0-1, Davis pr 0-0-0, Williams lf 4-1-1, Morrissey 4-2-2, Bickford rf 4-0-2. Wallace c 3-0-0, Murphy cf 4-0-1 Dawson p 0-0-0, Arsenault p 0-0-0. Totals 34-3-9
agateText:RBI: T — Lange; S — Morrissey, Wallace, Murphy
agateText:WP: Arsenault; LP: Hoadley
agateText:Timberlane (10-1): 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 — 2
agateText:Salem (8-2): 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 — 3