Tara Driver launched the second pitch she saw into orbit. Her first-inning moonshot provided the perfect thunder to North Reading pitcher Christina Simblaris’s electrifying shutout.
Together, North Reading’s pitcher-catcher duo showed no mercy and delivered the Hornets a 12-0 win over visiting Arlington Catholic in five shortened innings in a Division 2 North sectional softball quarterfinal on Sunday.
“We know right away which pitches are working and which aren’t,” said Driver, the senior catcher for North Reading (21-0).
“It’s really important to get [Simblaris’s] changeup frame at its best.”
Fellow senior Simblaris struck out seven batters and allowed only four base runners. The Hornets’ offense swarmed Arlington Catholic (15-7) immediately after Driver’s two-run home run.
Ahead, 3-0, going into the bottom of the third inning, North Reading’s Cassandra Pascucci doubled in two runs while Simblaris added an RBI single of her own.
RBI doubles from Bridget McDonough and Guiliana Peppe extended the Hornets’ lead to 10-0 in the fifth inning. The game ended at 12-0 with one out in the bottom of the inning due to mercy rules.
Simblaris never showed signs of fatigue and anticipated returning to the mound in the sixth inning.
“I just try to keep the ball low, throw a couple of off-speed pitches and then see who hits what the first up,” said Simblaris.
“[Tara] has been catching me since we were little and playing in town league. We get each other by now.”
North Reading advances to the Division 2 North sectional semifinals where the Hornets will face the winner of the Marblehead-Whittier Tech quarterfinal.
Division 1 North
Medford 12, Lowell 5 — Senior captain Sam Melanson chipped in two hits and two RBIs while earning her 16th win on the mound for the Mustangs (17-3). Sixth-seeded Medford advances to the Division 1 North quarterfinals at No. 3 Arlington on Tuesday.
Division 2 South
Greater New Bedford 4, Dennis-Yarmouth 0 — Jenna Sylvia threw a two-hit shutout for the Bears, punctuating the win with six strikeouts.
Division 3 North
Winthrop 10, East Boston 3 — A pair of freshmen led the way for the Vikings (8-14) as catcher Katie Gagnon went 3 for 3 with a home run, a triple and a trio of RBIs. Pitcher Sofia Vitale tossed seven innings, striking out as many batters after carrying a no hitter through 5⅔ innings.
Division 3 South
West Bridgewater 14, Old Colony 0 — Freshman Alexis Anderson threw a perfect game for the top-seeded Wildcats (21-1) in a five inning victory. Colleen O’Toole went 3 for 4 with three hits and three RBIs. The win advances West Bridgewater to the Division 3 South semifinals.
Abington 18, Nantucket 0 — Lauren Kelleher, Caitlin Murphy, Lily O’Neil and Corin Mahan combined to go 10 for 15 with 13 RBIs out of the first four spots in the lineup, as the fourth-seeded Green Wave (21-2) advanced to the Division 3 South semifinals. No. 9 hitter Katie Nelligan went 4 for 4 with three bunt singles and three runs scored.
Case 11, Monomoy 2 — Senior center fielder Fallon Marchand went 2 for 4 with a home run and four RBIs to propel the Cardinals (17-5) to the Division 3 South semifinals. The sixth-seeded Cardinals take on 15th-seeded Coyle Cassidy on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Taunton High.
Division 3 North
Austin Prep 8, Newburyport 0 — Junior pitcher Colin Jaena allowed just one hit in six innings while striking out eight to pace the top-seeded Cougars (19-2). Senior infielder Logan Bravo hit a grand slam. Austin Prep advances to face Bedford in the Division 3 North quarterfinals.
Division 1 South
BC High 18, Needham 5 — The second-ranked Eagles (17-3) received goals from 10 players and dominated possession while cruising past Needham in a Division 1 South quarterfinal at James Cotter Field. They next play No. 11 Wellesley (14-4), which upset third-ranked Duxbury Saturday in a Division 1 South semifinal this Tuesday.