LONDONDERRY -- If this keeps up, they may need to call the Salem softball team -- in deference to the old Cincinnati Reds’ powerhouse -- the Big Blue Machine.
The Blue Devils smacked the ball all over the park Saturday afternoon, collecting 14 hits, on their way to a convincing 10-2 victory over host Londonderry in the Division 1 quarterfinals.
Salem, now 17-1, advances to the semifinals Wednesday against the winner of Saturday’s Exeter-Winnacunnet matchup.
The Blue Devils, who are averaging 11 runs scored for the season, have now scored 19 runs in two tournament games and 33 runs in their last three games. They haven’t scored less than eight runs in their last eight games.
There was hardly an easy out in the Salem lineup Saturday as eight different batters had at least one hit and five players had multiple hits.
Impressive freshman shortstop Addison Lucier was 3 for 4 with three runs scored, classmate Jen Olson was 2 for 3, sophomore third baseman Ava McNamara was 2 for 3 with four RBIs, the final coming on a solo home run in the sixth, and soph Vania Moniz was 2 for 4.
Overall, Salem freshmen and sophomores accounted for 10 hits, 7 runs scored and 6 RBIs. Senior captain Sydney Emerson, who had two hits herself and scored twice, has never seen anything like it.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so impressed with young players before,” said Emerson, who is headed to Merrimack College next year. “The freshman and sophomore class have been amazing. At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure what to expect from them, but they showed right away what they could do.”
Salem coach Haley Chandler echoed those thoughts.
“Since we didn’t have a season last year, I didn’t know what I was getting from my freshmen and sophomores,” said Chandler. “It was a big question mark. But they have talent and they work hard and look where we are now.”
Salem wasted no time swinging the bat Saturday, scoring four runs on five straight hits with two outs in the top of the first inning.
Lucier started things off with a line drive single to right field, Emerson followed with a single to right and McNamara then crushed a two-run double to left. Moniz and another freshman, Emerson Poulin, followed with RBI singles to complete the initial outburst.
The Blue Devils added two more runs in the fifth with Lucier and Emerson starting things off with singles and eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly by McNamara and an RBI hit by Bri Boucher.
Salem pulled away with four more runs in the sixth, the key hits being a triple by Lucier and McNamara’s fifth homer of the season.
In the last three games, McNamara is 9 for 10 with 8 RBIs while Lucier is 8 for 10 with eight runs scored.
Explaining her current batting prowess, McNamara said: “I don’t know, but we’re seeing faster pitching and I do better against fast pitching.”
Junior Madison Solt went all the way for the win for Salem, striking out 11. Although she gave up nine hits, she showed great poise under pressure to leave nine runners on base. She struck out the No. 3 Londonderry batter four times, three of which came with two runners on base.
Salem catcher Bri Boucher made a key play in the third to help Solt out. With Londonderry runners on second and third and no out, Boucher picked off the runner at third following a strikeout for a double play that quickly ended the scoring threat.
Londonderry didn’t score until Olivia Chau slugged a two-run homer over the left field fence in the bottom of the seventh. It was her second hit of the game.
Salem 10, Londonderry 2
Division 1 quarterfinals
Salem (10): J. Olson lf 3-1-2, Burns rf 4-1-1, Lucier ss 4-3-3, Emerson cf 4-2-2, McNamara 3b 3-2-2, Moniz 3b 4-1-2, Poulin 3b 4-0-1, Boucher c 4-0-1, Migliorini 2b 3-0-0. Totals 32-10-14
Londonderry (2): Rivera cf 3-1-2, Chau 2b 3-1-2, Cutuli p 4-0-0, Gaspiel p 0-0-0, True 1b 3-0-1, Lacey 3b 3-0-0, Laudoni dp 2-0-0, Daniels ph 1-0-0, Minton c 2-0-1, Bufford ph 1-0-0, Frazier ss 3-0-3, Sawyer lf 2-0-0, Dobe ph 1-0-0. Totals 28-2-9
RBI: S — Lucier, McNamara 4, Moniz, Poulin, Boucher; L — Chau 2
WP: Solt; LP: Cutuli
Salem (17-1): 4 0 0 0 2 4 0 — 10
Londonderry (13-7): 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 — 2