Milford tops Souhegan in softball semifinals

MANCHESTER – Milford High School softball coach Jim Rines has always referred to pitcher Delaney Parker as Houdini.

Thursday night we all found out why.

That’s because Parker managed time and time again to wiggle her way out of trouble as the Spartans hung on for a 5-4 Division II semifinal win over archrival Souhegan at Southern New Hampshire University.

“It was determination by Delaney,” Rines said. “She wiggled her way out. I’ve nicknamed her Houdini, because nothing fazes her.”

The No. 4 Spartans went on to beat No. 6 Pembroke for their second straight championship.

“I just had to step it up, you know?” Parker said. “We’re both good teams. But for me, I work better staying loose. It’s not so much buckling down but remembering I can have fun.”

Top seed Souhegan (15-3), which had closed the deficit to 5-4 in the third, couldn’t get that big hit to drive in any tying or go-ahead runs. With one out and a runner on in the fifth, Mary Rotthoff lined into a double play. But the Sabers’ big chance was in the sixth, when two errors by third baseman Jen Carson put Souhegan runners at second and third with two out. But Parker got Megan Tupaj to ground out to first to end the threat. No big hit.

“We didn’t quite have that,” Sabers coach Andrea Bruneau said. “I think this was the game both teams expected. … We needed that one extra hit.”

It was a hit that Milford did get, a two-run single by Carson in the Spartans’ four-run second that snapped a 1-1 tie. Delaney Parker led off the inning with a double and eventually scored on a squeeze bunt by Rachael Nelson. Another run scored on a Carley Holtshouser groundout, and then Carson delivered her big hit.

But the Sabers, who were outhit 6-5, wouldn’t go down easily. Carrie Speer and Tupaj got hits and both scored on Lucy Stover and Cam Whitney RBI groundouts in the second to make it 5-3. The Sabers then pulled to within 5-4 on Samantha Cushing’s double and an error (the Spartans committed four) in the third.

Milford took a 1-0 lead in the first on a Paige Delier RBI singlewhile the Sabers evened things in the bottom half with a Madison Robicheau hit and a Spartan miscue.