Every high school team—except one—in every single-elimination tournament eventually confronts an opponent who is just better.
That was the challenge facing the Bedford High School Buccaneers, whose championship dreams ended late Wednesday afternoon with an 8-0 loss to Danvers in the MIAA Division 2 North quarterfinals.
Bedford was seeded first in the sectionals and Danvers was eighth. But those rankings are based on regular-season records, not strength of schedule. Danvers was the best team Bedford has played this season.
The Falcons scored four in the top of the first, three earned, on four hits, an error, and a wild pitch. But that was one less than Dracut scored two days ago, and the Bucs tied the score in the bottom of the first and won that first-round contest, 19-7.
But Dracut didn’t have Lily Eldridge.
The Danvers senior tri-captain pitched a masterpiece, facing only two batters over the minimum in seven innings, walking none and striking out 10. Bedford managed only three balls out of the infield.
Ellie Mitchell led off the bottom of the first with an opposite-field liner that the right fielder misplayed into a triple. Here we go again, right? But when Cassidy Schuman and Bella Fernald fanned and Laney Mead grounded weakly to short, it was apparent that this wasn’t Dracut redux.
Bedford never threatened, with a Mead single in the fourth the only other baserunner.
The Falcons added solo runs in the third, fifth, sixth, and seventh, three on home runs. Danvers totaled 12 hits. Danvers also won its opening-round game with a shutout.
A bright spot for Bedford was Katy Kranz, in her final game. Now actually a post-graduate, she threw five innings in relief, allowing three runs (two earned), striking out five, and walking one.
Bedford softball has a bright future, as every other starter is an underclasswoman.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 781-983-1763