Milford hangs on to beat Souhegan in coach’s return

AMHERST – Fireworks weren’t planned last Thursday for the return of Jim Rines to the Souhegan High School softball field, but fireworks are what everyone in attendance got.

Milford – Rines’ new team – jumped out to an 11-1 lead over the Sabers and then had to hold on as Rines’ former team rallied twice, but came up short, in a 15-13 win for the Spartans.

The Spartans got big offensive performances from their top hitters, as Jennifer Dupuis, Julia Mazzeo and Katherine Paul drove in three runs apiece. Dupuis had a run-scoring double in the top of the first and a two-run single in the second, while Mazzeo hit a sacrifice fly in both the second and third innings to help Milford take a 10-run lead.

“We got out to a terrific start,” Rines said. “(Souhegan starter Hailey) Yabroudy didn’t really have her good stuff. We took advantage of it. I kept telling our kids that the game’s not over because (Souhegan) can hit, that they’re going to hit.

“Both teams battled and made mistakes here and there. It’s great to be on the winning end of one of those.”

Souhegan started its rally in the bottom of the fourth, scoring four runs off Milford starter Kaitlyn Nelson to make an 11-5 game after four.

In the bottom of the fifth, with Delaney Parker in the circle for the Spartans, Souhegan’s Val Mukai hit an inside-the-park grand slam, part of a five-run inning that made it a one-run game. Mukai finished with six RBIs for the Sabers.

Milford added four runs in the sixth to go up 15-10, but Souhegan still didn’t go away. With Nelson back in the circle, the Sabers scored two runs to cut the lead to three, and had two runners on when Abrie Davis crushed a ball deep to left field, but foul.

Souhegan got another run in, but Holtshouser made a nice catch in left on a line drive by Hannah Cochrin to end the game.

“So many ups and downs,” said Souhegan coach Andrea Bruneau, who played for Rines when he coached the Sabers. “I felt like we came out flat. We should have hit better sooner than the fourth inning because we are talented, especially offensively.

“But when we were down 11-1, I said you can either feel bummed and wait to lose, or you can stay in it and fight, and that’s what they did.”

Nelson got the win, going 31?3 innings to start and then two innings in relief, combining to give up eight runs on 13 hits and two walks with two strikeouts. Yabroudy took the loss, giving up 10 runs on six hits and six walks in 22?3 innings.