Grady, Reading outduel Lucente, Arlington – Boston Herald


READING — Facing an offense which averaged 14 runs per game over its previous five outings, Arlington pitcher Janelle Lucente did an excellent job to limit Reading to less than one-third of that number in a battle of Middlesex League elites on Friday.

And yet, Rockets senior Analise Grady pitched even better.

By allowing just two hits with 15 strikeouts in a complete-game shutout, Grady powered Reading (6-1) to a 4-0 win over Lucente and the previously unbeaten Spy Ponders (6-1) for a signature league victory. That paired well with her RBI double in the second inning to get the team on the board, helping it overcome a stalled offensive performance compared to what it’s grown accustomed to.

Throw in a pair of insurance runs late from situational softball, and it was an all-around win per usual for a Rockets group with six straight victories.

“(Grady) stays strong for us, and it’s not just her pitching, it’s her offense as well,” said head coach Jill McElroy. “Today was tough, (Lucente) was good. … When you’re used to scoring (so much), this was a little different. People were getting a little (antsy), but this was good.”

As Lucente (six innings, three earned runs, four hits, four walks, six strikeouts) held Reading to just two runs over the first four innings, Grady did her one better every frame amid a pitcher’s duel. A triple in the third inning and a double in the fourth were her only blemishes, but Grady overwhelmed hitters immediately after to get out of each two-out jam.

Her off-speed pitches were particularly effective, three times striking out the side in order as Arlington couldn’t get into any rhythm at the plate.

“It feels so cool,” Grady said. “I know that my team is behind me and I trust them, and I was happy that I was able to help them, and they helped me. … (This win) is very important. I think it gives us a lot more confidence.”

The fifth inning is where Reading really started to separate, utilizing an Ella Haley (1-for-2, double, RBI) walk and steal to put a runner in scoring position. A first-and-third steal play with Grace Weston allowed Haley to steal home for a 3-0 lead, and then a passed ball with the bases loaded in the sixth inning capped a day of aggressive baserunning as Jackie Malley (2-for-3) scored the fourth and final run.

“Kids are pretty good with trying to take advantage of the defense when they can,” McElroy said. “Any team can beat any team (in the league). … We’ve got to come every day to play.”

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