DERRY | There wasn't much separating Londonderry from Pinkerton last Friday.
Coming into the game, Astros' coach Terry Bailey thought that if his squad could match Londonderry's production both offensively and defensively, then his team would have a legitimate shot at knocking off their rival first place Lancers.
His team performed very well, but much to Bailey's dismay, the end result of the game was a 3-2 Londonderry victory. The Pinkerton loss was despite the fact that they outhit the Lancers 9-7.
"I thought we played with Londonderry on both sides of the ball," said Bailey, whose team was 6-5 heading into Monday's game against Goffstown.
Bailey was correct, his team did indeed hang with the Lancers on offense and defense. But there was one facet of the game that was ultimately the deciding factor, and it's the main reason that Londonderry was 10-1 as of Monday and at the top of the Class L standings.
The Lancers have relied heavily on a two-headed monster on the mound, comprised of juniors Brooke Beaudet and Andrea Ouellette. Their last names rhyme and their skills on the hill nearly mirror each other, giving Londonderry two bonafide No. 1 starters.
In last Friday's game, it was Ouellette getting the ball and she did what she's been doing all year. The right-hander went the distance, striking out seven. She also got out of jams when she needed to, frustrating the Pinkerton lineup.
After giving up three straight singles to start the fifth inning, Ouellette calmed down and got three of the next four hitters to limit the damage in the inning to two runs. Ouellette's poise allowed Londonderry to maintain its slim 3-2 lead and she followed through by retiring six of the final eight batters she faced in the game, including an impressive one-two-three seventh.
For Ouellette, who walked a batter for the first time in a start last Friday, the win improved her personal record to 5-0.
"Andrea is so consistent," said Londonderry coach Wayne MacDougall. "She just doesn't walk anyone. Pinkerton got to her in one inning, but she got out of it."
Beaudet, who in this game did the damage with her bat and not her arm, provided a lift offensively. She was 2 for 4 and delivered a clutch RBI double in the top of the fifth. She later scored in the inning when Ouellette showed that she can also be a force at the plate and delivered an RBI triple.
The only difference between Beaudet and Ouellette so far this season is that Beaudet suffered the only Londonderry loss. Nevertheless, a 5-1 record is far from a bad thing.
"We've been going with a two-pitcher rotation all year and now we're halfway through," said MacDougall. "Right now Brooke and Andrea are on the same plain. They're right together in everything."
It's quickly becoming clear to the rest of Class L that no matter what day you face the Lancers, you will be facing a pitching ace. It's a luxury that few teams have and could put Londonderry in great shape for a title.
As we've often heard before | pitching wins championships.
Matt Langone is the sports editor of the Derry News. He can be reached by phone at 603-421-3829 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.