'Cats halt Hawks' reign.


Byline: Jay Gearan

HUDSON - Hudson High's three-year reign as champion of the annual Cheryl Jones Softball Tournament ended yesterday when Gardner High erupted for five runs in the sixth inning to capture the title with a 5-3 victory.

Earlier in the day, the fifth-ranked Wildcats defeated North Middlesex Regional, and the 10th-ranked Hawks beat Nashoba Regional to advance. Both finalists are now 6-1.

Hudson led, 1-0, on Christy Jenkins' home run in the fourth, but Gardner rallied in the sixth, sending nine batters to the plate, five of them getting hits.

Given the lead, Gardner's Julia Barrett continued her excellent performance with an outing that featured 14 strikeouts, no walks and only four hits allowed.

"This was a big win for us," Gardner coach Howie Klash said, holding the winning plaque, something that had eluded the Wildcats even during their Central Mass. Division 1 championship seasons.

"I thought Julia was really tough today," Klash added. "She did a great job."

Barrett had retired nine in a row before Jenkins took her deep, the ball sailing over the fence in center field.

"She crushed that pitch," said Hudson coach Steve Martin, adding he was hopful the single run would hold up the entire game.

Said Barrett about the home run pitch: "That was a hanging rise ball, which really didn't go over well. Plus, she (Jenkins) is a very good hitter. I'm glad the way we came back, though."

Gardner's sixth-inning rally began when...

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