A nail-biting extra inning led to a cathartic North Division Championship victory for the Malden High School varsity softball team Monday, as the team edged over Acton-Boxborough 3-2 – the team's first such victory in the history of Malden High School.
The win comes after four straight playoff victories against traditional powerhouses like Central Catholic, and will send the team to their first regional championship against Bridgewater-Raynham Tuesday night.
ESPN Boston reported that “both teams struggled defensively and both (team's) pitchers shined on the big stage” during the low-scoring game, which saw pitcher and senior class president Kiara Amos strike out 13 players.
“It was a game of strong pitchers,” Malden head coach John Furlong told ESPN reporters. “What we have in Kiara they have in (Acton-Boxborough Pitcher) Sarah Ropiak.”
But it was junior Melissa Light who sealed the game at the bottom of the eighth inning, when her right-field hit propelled Emily Moran from third base to home.
“It's the greatest feeling ever!” she said of the hit, noting she was “literally pacing back and forth” with excitement after the game. .
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She wasn't the only one – Mayor Gary Christenson, himself a graduate of the high school, and was the first to break the news of the historic win over social media.
“Each frame was as nerve-wracking as the ones before it – I've never seen anything like it,” he said. “It's just something I know I'll never forget. It was an amazing night for the city of Malden...We couldn't be prouder of the athletic director, the principal, fans and of course the team.”
Christenson said he was encouraging residents to have a “big showing” at the team's next game - the Eastern Massachusetts championship at 7p.m. Tuesday night at 420 Douglas Road in Lowell - and would ask the city council to re-schedule their meeting to maximize turnout.
“We want as many people going down as we can,” he said. “This is a once in a lifetime experience, for them to win four straight playoff games.”