DIVISION 2 SOFTBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Gloucester (21-3) vs. Hudson (21-3)
When: Saturday (7 p.m.)
Where: Worcester State University's Rockwood Park
Hudson's tournament road: 9-0 over Blackstone Millville in Division 2 Central Quarterfinals; 2-1 over Littleton in Division 2 Central Semifinals; 11-0 over Leicester in Division 2 Central Finals; 6-0 over Hampshire in Division 2 State Semifinals.
Gloucester's tournament road: 1-0 over Danvers in Division 2 North Quarterfinals; 8-0 over Whittier Tech in Division 2 North Semifinals; 14-6 over Triton in Division 2 North Finals; 3-2 over Norton in Division 2 State Semifinals.
Hudson's key players: Sophia Togneri, P; Emily White, Inf.; Maddie Kiley, OF; Jordyn Safranski, OF; Sarah Korowski, 1B.
Gloucester's key players: Sydney McKay, P; Liz Schuster, C; Tracy Wood, CF; Jemima Grow, OF; Maddie Machado, 1B; Ella Marshall, SS.
Key Matchup: This is a matchup between two marquee pitchers, that have both been dominant this season. Hudson's Sophia Togneri has allowed just one run in four postseason wins, a 2-1 extra innings win over previously unbeaten Littleton in the sectional semifinals. Gloucester's Sydney McKay has also been dominant. Outside of the six runs allowed in a 14-6 win over Triton, which may have the most powerful batting lineup in the entire division and was held to its season low run total by McKay, she has allowed two runs in three other tournament wins, including two shutouts to start the tournament. It is also two pitchers with contrasting styles and Togneri finds success with a dominant fastball while McKay keeps hitters guessing with a variety of pitches that she can throw in any count.
Keys to victory: The keys to victory in this game are simple, whichever team can do a better job getting to the opposing pitcher will win. With the way both teams are going, the team that does a better job executing small ball will also be at an advantage. While both teams have relied on dominant pitcher, that is far from the entire story as both the Fishermen and Hawks are more than formidable at the plate as well. Both teams are not afraid to go to small ball or swing away to string hits together.
Outlook: A team can not get this far into the season without being great. Expect a clean game similar to the one Gloucester played with Norton in the State Semifinals. Tight, low scoring, superb pitching and defense. It will most likely come down to timely hitting. Gloucester is looking to take home the program's first ever state title while Hudson last won a state championship in 2010.
DIVISION 2 GIRLS LACROSSE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Manchester Essex (17-5) vs. Cohasset (19-6)
When: Friday (7 p.m.)
Where: Babson College's MacDowell Field, Wellesley
Cohasset's tournament road: 22-2 over Old Colony Tech in Division 2 South First Round; 23-5 over Rockland in Division 2 South Quarterfinals; 14-13 over Norwell in Division 2 South Semifinals; 19-6 over Hanover in Division 2 South Finals; 17-8 over Foxboro in Division 2 State Semifinals.
Manchester Essex's tournament road: 15-2 over Lowell Catholic in Division 2 North First Round; 16-6 over Winthrop in Division 2 North Quarterfinals; 11-10 over Ipswich in Division 2 North Semifinals; 7-6 over Newburyport in Division 2 North Finals; 11-10 over Bromfield in Division 2 State Semifinals.
Cohasset's key players: Jane Hansen, Attack; Gennie Littlejohn, Attack; Kate Cunning, Attack; Annie Toomey, Def.
Manchester Essex's key players: Lily Athanas, Mid.; Christina Calandra, Def.; Brigid Edgerton, Attack; Drew Charlton, Mid.; Abby Lantz, Mid.; Bella Pomeroy, G.
Key matchup: This is a battle between Cohasset's high powered offense and Manchester Essex's stingy defense. Something's gotta give. The Hornets have thrived this tournament season at getting better as the game goes on and protecting slim leads late in the contest with elite goaltending and defense, and dominant ball possession. Cohasset plays up tempo and its low scoring total in the tournament is 14 goals. This is a high flying team led by Northwestern commit Jane Hansen.
Keys to victory: Manchester Essex needs to keep up with Cohasset offensively. The Hornets will be tested on defense like they have not been tested before in the tournament. Fortunately for Manchester Essex, it also has a wealth of offensive talent and was able to keep up with the two best offensive teams it has played so far in the tournament in Ipswich and Bromfield. For Cohasset, it will have to pull away late. Letting Manchester Essex hang around is a huge mistake and once it gets a late lead, it is masterful at holding onto it. The Skippers must keep the Hornets at arms length on the scoreboard, much like they have to opponents all tournament, because the Division 2 North champs will make teams pay if they let them hang around, and they are outstanding at making adjustments in game.
Outlook: The Hornets defense and the Skippers offense is an incredible matchup. But this game will most likely be decided by which team is more well rounded. If the Manchester Essex offense can handle the Cohasset defense, it will be in excellent shape.
DIVISION 4 BASEBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Manchester Essex (19-5) vs. Tahanto (17-6)
When: Saturday (12 p.m.)
Where: LeLacheur Park, Lowell
Tahanto's tournament road: 2-1 over Quaboag in Division 4 Central First Round; 3-1 over West Boylston in Division 4 Central Quarterfinals; 8-2 over Maynard in Division 4 Central Semifinals; 7-4 over Hopedale in Division 4 Central Finals; 5-4 over Hopkins Academy in Division 4 State Semifinal.
Manchester Essex's tournament road: 4-2 over Lowell Catholic in Division 4 North Quarterfinals; 3-2 over Snowden in Division 4 North Semifinals; 16-0 over Boston English in Division 4 North Finals; 7-3 over St. John Paul II in Division 4 State Semifinals.
Tahanto's key players: Justin Wolfe, P; Rob Salerno, OF; Andrew Brown, C; Derek Arcand, Inf.
Manchester Essex key players: Luke Leavitt, OF; Bennett O'Leary, SS; Harry Painter, Inf./P; Mike Quill, C; Dylan Wilson, P/OF; Kellen Heney, P.
Key matchup: As is always the case in baseball, the pitching matchup is always the key matchup of the game. On Saturday, it looks like Tahanto will send Justin Wolfe to the hill. Wolfe knocked off Hopedale in the Division 4 Central Finals and he did not pitch in Wednesday's state semifinal against Hopkins Academy. Manchester Essex will go with either freshman Kellen Heney, a lefty who earned the win in the sectional final, or senior Dylan Wilson, a righty who threw two innings of relief on Wednesday night. Harry Painter could also be available for late inning duty after going five innings for the win against St. John Paul II in the state semis.
Keys to victory: We know the pitching will be there for both teams. That means Saturday's state final will come down to hitting and defense. The team that makes fewer mistakes in the field will be at a huge advantage. When it comes to hitting, it's not necessarily about which team can get the most hits, it's about which team is the most productive when it does not get a hit. Moving runners over with a productive out, sacrifices and baserunning will be a huge factor on Saturday and could decide what looks to be a very close game.
Outlook: Saturday is a battle between a Manchester Essex team that was dominant all season long and that many thought had a chance to get to this point for the first time in program history. Tahanto, which is also looking for its first ever state title, is a bit of a Cinderella story as it earned the No. 7 seed in Division 4 Central after a good but not great regular season at 12-6. Both teams are battle tested and highly confident after impressive state tournament runs. This should be another close game that will be decided in the late innings.