LOWELL, Mass. - The New England Riptide took a step toward securing the final playoff spot in the National Pro Fastpitch League tonight with a 3-1 win over their nearest rival, the Arizona Heat.
New England got things going early when LaDonia Hughes reached first base on a fielding miscue by Heat second baseman Sara Pickering. Once on first Hughes stole second and then came around to score pn a two-out single by designated player, Sara Jewett.
Arizona answered in the top of the second when Tarrah Beyster led off the inning with a homerun that went well over the left field fence.
The score remained one all until the bottom of the sixth, when the Riptide scored much the same way they scored in the first. Ashley Moore led off the inning by getting hit by a Mo Triner pitch and it was followed by the second error of the game by Pickering. The error was the Heat's fourth of the contest. Another single by Jewett loades the bases and Lyndsey Angus came through with a single to right center to drive in Moore and Tara Knudsen.
The two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning were all that the Riptide needed, as Megan Matthews pitched a complete game to pick up her third win of the year against one loss. Matthews had some help from the defense as the Riptide turned two double plays in key situations.
The first came in the fourth inning when Becky Turi and Jessica Rapoza each picked up singles to begin the inning, Beyster then hit a line shot that Knudsen jumped high in the air to grab. Knudsen threw to second to double-up Rapoza at second. A similar play occurred in the sixth inning when this time Nichole Thompson took a hit away from Jodi Otten. Thompson completed the double-play by throwing to first get Katie Gutierrez who opened the inning with a hit to left field.
The Riptide and Heat continue their three-game series Saturday at 7:05 and Sunday at 1:05. Leigh Ann Ellis is expected to start for the Riptide on Saturday.