LOWELL — Burlington pitcher Courtney Lanfranchi didn't throw hard against North Reading yesterday. She didn't have to.
With some terrific off-speed pitches and a nice defense behind her, Lanfranchi brought a perfect game into the fifth inning and a no-hitter into the sixth, second-seed Burlington beat No. 11 North Reading, 5-2, in the Division 2 North semifinals.
North Reading finished its season at 14-9.
Put simply by Hornets head coach Rusty Russell, the Red Devils, who plays Reading today for the sectional title, were the better team.
"They're a very, very good defensive team," Russell said. "And we struggled with the bat. She threw a lot of off-speed pitches and kept our batters disengaged as far as where the balls were and the speed of the pitches."
Russell said Lanfranchi, who finished with a two-hitter, had the best off-speed stuff his team had faced this entire spring. He added that his team tried to prepare for it.
"We work on different things but when you get in the situation, unless it's pounded into your head, you go back to what you do normally — and normally we're used to quicker stuff and the girls just couldn't stay back on the slow stuff," Russell said.
Burlington took a 3-0 lead in the first inning on three hits and one North Reading error. The big hit was Kayla Sheldon's two-run single with two outs.
"They had a couple of big hits at exactly the right time," said Russell, who added his team did give the Red Devils some extra outs with poor defense (North Reading made two errors).
Burlington (now 21-2) increased its lead to 5-0 in the fourth inning when Stacey Bezreh bashed a two-run triple.
North Reading pitcher Terri Ferrazzani stroked her team's first hit, a two-out RBI double in the sixth that scored Shelby Carney, who had reached on an error.
North Reading's other hit was a one-out double by Alicia McCauley in the seventh that plated Elise Makowski, who pinch ran after Dana Amirault walked.
"Those were two good hits," Russell said. "That last one (by McCauley) was a jack. That was a great hit, something to keep me warm during the winter."
Ferrazzani went six innings and gave up just two earned runs on eight hits while striking out seven and walking two batters.
"Terri is just so focused and just nothing deters her," Russell said. "She's a mental giant as far as toughness. And she just throws and she works. She's only a sophomore so you'll be seeing a little bit more of her. But I was real proud of her. Real proud of her in the tournament." Ferrazzani throws a fastball, changeup, dropball and a drop curve.
"I threw a little bit of everything," she said. "It was all working." Ferrazzani added about the season, "We started off slow, but we had a really good season after that. We did really good, I think."
Burlington 5, North Reading 2
Division 2 North semifinals
at Martin Field, Lowell
North Reading (2): Shelby Carney rf 3-1-0, Merri Moise ss 3-0-0, Terri Ferrazzani p 3-0-1, Jenn Castro pr 0-0-0, Kirsten Morrison 1b 2-0-0, Jessica Eisenhaure 2b 3-0-0, Brittany Venezia lf 2-0-0, Dana Amirault c 1-0-0, Elise Makowski pr 0-1-0, Alicia McCauley 2b 2-0-1, Tarah Reilly cf 3-0-0. Totals 22-2-2
Burlington (5): Christina Raso ss 4-0-1, Stacey Bezreh 2b 1-0-1, Haley Currie 3b 3-1-1, Jill Mazure c 3-0-0, Danielle Coveno pr 0-1-0, Kelly McCarthy rf 3-1-1, Kayla Sheldon 3-0-1, Amy Hunter dp 3-1-1, Amber Eisenhauer 1b 3-1-2, April Adams lf 2-0-0, Courtney Lanfranchi p 0-0-0. Totals 25-5-8
RBI: NR — Ferazzani, McCauley; B — Sheldon 2, Bezreh 2
WP: Lanfranchi; LP: Ferrazzani
North Reading (14-9):0 0 0 0 0 1 1 — 2
Burlington (21-2):3 0 0 2 0 0 x — 5
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