'Cats return to title game; Davis' 2-run homer, 2-run single key for Gardner.


Byline: Jay Gearan

WORCESTER - Unlike the Celtics, who have waited 21 years for a chance to win it all again, the Gardner High softball team is headed for its third final in four seasons.

The sixth-seeded Wildcats (19-4) held off a late rally by second-seeded Holy Name to defeat the Naps, 5-3, in a Central Mass. Division 1 semifinal last night at Worcester State.

The defending Central Mass. champions will face Marlboro High in the final at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Worcester State. The Wildcats and Panthers split their two regular-season games and shared the Mid-Wach B title.

Sparked by senior Kayla Davis' two-run homer in the fourth inning and her two-run single in the fifth, plus the effective pitching of senior Elyssa Boris, Gardner built a 5-0 lead over five full innings.

In the sixth, the Naps (19-3) came to life, cutting their deficit to 5-3. In the last of the seventh, they had the tying runs in scoring position before Boris closed the door with a strikeout, her 12th of the night, and two groundouts.

"We put up a lot of runs early, and Kayla's bomb was the key to the game," Gardner coach Howie Klash said.

After three scoreless innings, Boris opened the fourth with a single to right. Two outs later, Davis unloaded, blasting a pitch by Holy Name's Lynne Halley over the fence in dead center field.

"It was an outside pitch," Davis, a four-year starter at second base, said about her first homer at Worcester State after many games there. "I was just concentrating on getting the ball in play."

In the fifth, the Wildcats made it 5-0. Nikki Berube led off with her second hit, a single to left, and later scored on a Nikki Boris single. With two outs...

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