LOWELL — It was pretty ugly at times for Central Catholic on Tuesday in the Div. 1 softball semifinals against No. 5 Peabody. But with one swing of an unlikely hero’s bat, the ugliness turned to beauty.
No. 9 batter Bella Boyer rocked River View Field with a two-run homer in the fifth inning that gave the top-seeded Raiders a lead it never relinquished in a 4-2 win over the Tanners.
Central (23-1) advances to face either Taunton or King Philip at UMass Amherst this weekend for a state title.
“I’m just happy that I could get a hit like that for the team,” Boyer said.
One of those people not truly surprised that Boyer came up huge was Central coach Stacy Ciccolo.
“We have a lot of faith in Bella,” Ciccolo said. “We like having her in that spot so we can turn the order around.”
The Raiders were fortunate to be in a 2-2 tie as they left nine on base over the first four innings against Peabody’s Abby Bettencourt. Central also committed three errors and saw Logan Lomasney and Bettencourt homer in the first and third innings respectively to give the Tanners (22-2) a 2-1 lead.
Central (23-1) tied the game in the bottom of the fourth as Amelia Orelles led off with a walk. A ground out and a fly ball got pinch runner Jill Clements to third with two outs where Caitlin Milner singled to left to deadlock things.
Peabody threatened in the top of the fifth as Bettencourt scorched a double to left and stole third, setting up the game’s most controversial moment.
Lomasney hit a slow roller to first baseman Ava Perrotta, who stepped on the bag and fired home to get a sliding Bettencourt by inches. Peabody coach Tawny Palmieri vehemently argued the call but it was upheld.
That set the stage for Boyer’s dramatics. Perotta singled and was still at first with two outs when Boyer turned on the first pitch she saw and rocketed one well over the bullpen in left field for a 4-2 lead.
“Abby was doing a great job of keeping us off-balance and we didn’t do a great job of getting the hits we needed with people on,” Ciccolo said. “Once we finally settled down we were able to make the adjustments.”
Elizabeth Kearney came in for Julia Malowitz in the circle to begin the sixth and she slammed the door on Peabody in the final two innings to save the win.