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Gillies Is Zeroed In as Saugus Wins Title

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nicole Giordano suffered the humiliation, but like great players often do in big games, she brought elation and a Southern Section championship to the Saugus High softball team.

Giordano, a junior shortstop who entered the game with 51 stolen bases in 52 attempts, was picked off first base in the first inning of the Division II title game Friday night at Mayfair Park.

Five innings later, she scored the only run as Saugus beat top-seeded Woodbridge, 1-0, on a three-hitter by Jamie Gillies.

Giordano scored the winning run on a daring play, running home from second base. The play paid off for Saugus (27-4), which otherwise stranded 10 runners against Woodbridge sophomore Christy Robitaille (21-5), who had 11 strikeouts.

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Gillies (24-3), a three-year starter who did not allow an earned run in 39 playoff innings, struck out only one while ending years of playoff frustration for the Centurions, who had never won a section title and lost to the four-time champion Warriors (28-6) in the 1992 title game, 2-1, in eight innings.

“It was a tremendous play,” Gillies said of Giordano’s dash for home.

"[Giordano’s] got the speed to do it. It was a big relief to get the run.”

Giordano, who entered the game with a .498 batting average, did it in spectacular fashion.

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With one out, she scored from second base on a routine ground out to shortstop.

“I was running my butt off,” said Giordano, who never hesitated. “I was just running my hardest and hoping we’d win.”

Robitaille was fortunate to get out of the first two innings. Saugus didn’t appear ready for any early opportunities.

Robitaille threw 44 pitches, walked four batters and hit one in that span, but she got help from catcher Lizzy Lemire, who picked off two runners.

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The Centurions were stunned when Giordano was gunned down after leading off the game with a walk.

Giordano had been thrown out only once all season, by Lemire in a 3-0 loss in April as she tried to steal third.

This time, Giordano slipped trying to get back to first base after a big lead.

Two more runners reached base that inning, as well as two in the second inning and one in the third.

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The net result: no runs and no runner reaching third base.

By the fourth inning, Saugus had stranded five, this time leaving runners at second and third after Gillies walked and was safe at second on Shannon McRoy’s sacrifice bunt, McRoy reaching on a fielder’s choice.

With Kim Wright running for Gillies, Tracy Passafiume advanced the two with a sacrifice bunt.

But Robitaille struck out Valerie Reyes and Elizabeth Grey to end the inning.

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Giordano finally took matters into her own hands in the fifth.

She bunted on Robitaille’s first offering. The bunt was fielded cleanly by Lemire, who had plenty of time to make the play but appeared surprised by Giordano’s speed, and the throw to first was late.

Jill Passafiume bunted with two strikes, sacrificing Giordano to second.

Amanda Melton followed with a grounder to Natasha Watley at short. Giordano never hesitated, racing home as first baseman Ashley Boone fielded the throw and threw home.

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