By Christopher Smith
---- — LOWELL — Apparently, the sports media have more of an impact on the outcome of sporting events than one might think.
“We weren’t even a team to watch in the newspaper after our regular season,” Central Catholic third baseman Karoline Leavitt said. “I don’t know which one but coach told us in one newspaper we weren’t a team to watch. So that kind of gave us some fire and we knew that we had it in us.”
Leavitt went 3 for 4 with three RBIs to lead No. 4 seeded Central Catholic 10-2 over 10th seed Newton North in the Division 1 North final at Martin Field in Lowell yesterday. It was Central softball’s first North title since 2008.
“We stomped on the two teams the first two games and then Concord(-Carlisle) the other night in 10 innings — that was a huge game for us,” Leavitt said. “And we just used that momentum coming into this game. I’m so excited. This is awesome. I’m so proud of my team. It’s just surreal right now.”
Central will play the winner of the South bracket in the state semifinals at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Taunton High School.
The Raiders (20-4) scored a remarkable 40 runs in four North tourney games.
“I thought we needed to hit,” Central coach Stacy Ciccolo said when asked what she believed to be the key to winning the tournament before it began. “I thought that were some good teams in this tournament and we’d probably have to put some runs on the board.”
Central banged out 10 hits with Leavitt leading the way.
Leavitt is from Atkinson. So is Central pitcher and 2012 Eagle-Tribune All-Star Olivia Antczak who hurled 7.0 strong innings.
Antczak said about Leavitt: “I just love her. I’ve known her my whole life. She basically like my partner in crime. She always comes through for us. Whenever there is bases loaded or two people on, I know that she’s going to get the hit.”
Ciccolo said that Leavitt has seen the ball well all season.
“She’s been a very clutch hitter for us,” Ciccolo said. “She has come up with a clutch hit so many times I can’t even count it. She really stays very composed in the box, makes good decisions and really drives the ball hard.”
Antczak allowed two runs — no earned runs — on five hits and one walk while striking out six batters.
“She was just hitting her spots and she was just very composed and she is honestly the most mentally tough pitcher that I’ve played with or seen,” Leavitt said. “And she just holds her own out there. ... She did in the last game, too. She’s just been awesome for us all year. ... I wouldn’t want to get up against her.”
The key inning for Antczak was the third when she held Newton North scoreless after the first two batters reached.
“I actually didn’t think she had her best stuff today but when we needed her to, I felt like she buckled down and made a good pitch,” Ciccolo said. “She came up with a strikeout or produced a good ground ball out when necessary.”
agateHed:Central Catholic 10, Newton North 2
agateText:Division 1 North Finals
Newton North (2): Bridget McLaughlin 2b 4-0-0, Rachel Hamilton ss 4-0-2, Liv Sloane 3b/p/3b 4-0-0, Zoe Cassidy lf 3-1-0, Caitlin O’Hanley c 2-0-0, Emma Berger cf 3-0-0, Caroline Loftus rf 2-0-2, Ellie Wennekir 1-0-0, Gabby Vachon p/3b/p 3-0-1, Madison Beatrice 1b 3-1-0. Totals 29-1-5
agateText:Central Catholic (10): Krista Maloney cf 4-1-2, Ally Cavanaugh ss 3-1-0, Olivia Antczak p 2-0-0, Hannah Gillis pr 0-1-0, Leslie Moore 1b 4-2-2, Karoline Leavitt 3b 4-3-3, Meg Sears rf 4-0-2, Vanessa Weymouth pr 0-1-0, Devlin Frost c 3-0-0, Olivia Ciccarelli lf 3-1-1, Madison Borrelli 2b 1-0-0. Totals 28-10-10
agateText:RBI: CC — Leavitt 3, Sears 2, Ciccarelli 2
agateText:WP: Antczak; LP: Vachon
agateText:Newton North (18-7): 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 — 2
agateText:Central Catholic (20-4): 0 2 0 6 0 2 0 — 10