'Cats score early, prevail in Acton.


Byline: John McGuirk

ACTON - After a tough, 1-0 loss only 24 hours earlier, it would have been easy for the Gardner High softball team to come out a bit listless in yesterday's game against Eastern Mass. power Acton-Boxboro Regional.

But the second-ranked Wildcats (15-4) took advantage of two Colonials errors in the first inning to score three runs, then held off a last-inning rally to secure a 4-2 victory.

"I thought this was a great tribute to our girls after losing such a tough one Wednesday to Marlboro, where we only allowed one hit," said Gardner coach Howie Klash, whose team will be aiming for its third straight Central Mass. Division 1 championship when the postseason begins next week. "I thought we played focused and were disciplined at the plate and were able to take advantage of a couple of mistakes they made."

Acton-Boxboro (15-4), champion of the Dual County League's Large Division and ranked No. 6 in Eastern Mass., put itself in a tough situation at the outset. Two dropped popups set up Julia Barrett's ground-rule double to drive in the Wildcats' first run.

It appeared Barrett had struck out one pitch earlier. After the umpires got together and ruled that the count was 3-2 on Barrett, she connected for her double. Moments later, Erica Basile followed with a sharp double to left-center, driving in two more runs to put Gardner on top, 3-0.

"Errors killed us today," Acton-Boxboro coach Mary Matthews said. "They do every time we play a good team, and that's why we lose. But our bats weren't...

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