Mascenic softball beats Woodsville to earn state final berth

Mascenic's Katalina Davis pitches against Woodsville.

Mascenic's Katalina Davis pitches against Woodsville. —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic's Delaney Traffie cheers on her team. 

Mascenic's Delaney Traffie cheers on her team.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic head coach Tim St. John. 

Mascenic head coach Tim St. John.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic senior captain Leah St. John psyches up teammate Peyton LaFreniere before an at-bat. 

Mascenic senior captain Leah St. John psyches up teammate Peyton LaFreniere before an at-bat.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic's Lexis Vautour watches a big play for the Vikings. 

Mascenic's Lexis Vautour watches a big play for the Vikings.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Delaney Traffie and Val Stenersen share a hug after Traffie's home run. 

Delaney Traffie and Val Stenersen share a hug after Traffie's home run.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Leah St. John has a laugh between innings. 

Leah St. John has a laugh between innings.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic's Katalina Davis pitches against Woodsville.

Mascenic's Katalina Davis pitches against Woodsville. —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic's Delaney Traffie readies to hit a two-run homer against Woodsville. 

Mascenic's Delaney Traffie readies to hit a two-run homer against Woodsville.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic's Delaney Traffie, left, Katalina Davis and Ella Pearson talk with the team before Wednesday's NHIAA Division IV softball semifinal game against Woodsville at Plymouth State College.

Mascenic's Delaney Traffie, left, Katalina Davis and Ella Pearson talk with the team before Wednesday's NHIAA Division IV softball semifinal game against Woodsville at Plymouth State College. —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Ella Pearson warms up before an at-bat.

Ella Pearson warms up before an at-bat. —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic players celebrate their semifinal win.  

Mascenic players celebrate their semifinal win.   —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Leah St. John slaps on a tag at third as Woodsville's Allee Rowe slides in.

Leah St. John slaps on a tag at third as Woodsville's Allee Rowe slides in. —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic's Emma Cargill hustles up the line to first during Wednesday's game. 

Mascenic's Emma Cargill hustles up the line to first during Wednesday's game.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic's Katalina Davis and Leah St. John celebrate their semifinal win.  

Mascenic's Katalina Davis and Leah St. John celebrate their semifinal win.   —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic's Katalina Davis and Leah St. John celebrate their semifinal win.  

Mascenic's Katalina Davis and Leah St. John celebrate their semifinal win.   —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

By BEN CONANT

For the Ledger-Transcript

Published: 06-08-2023 7:13 PM

Mascenic is heading to Saturday's NHIAA Division IV softball championship after winning a soaking semifinal slugfest, 8-7, over No. 1 Woodsville Wednesday evening at Plymouth State. 

The No. 5 Vikings trailed 2-0 after three innings, as Mascenic allowed a pair of runs on three errors and a passed ball while going down quietly against DIV Player of the Year and starting pitcher Mackenzie Griswald. But the second time around the lineup was fruitful for the Vikes.

"For some reason, we like to start off a little late, but once we get going, we keep it going," said first-year Mascenic head coach Tim St. John after the game. 

The Vikings started getting the bat on the ball in the fourth, as Katalina Davis and Delaney Traffie got on base ahead of an Emma Cargill RBI single and an Ava Krook two-RBI double that sent Woodsville's outfielders tumbling on the wet grass as a part of a three-error inning. 

"That's what we were looking for," St. John said. "We knew if we got hits and got on base, we could rattle them."

First-team All-State senior Leah St. John added an RBI triple to deep center and Mascenic had a 4-2 lead, which turned out to be short-lived, as the Engineers put together a pair of RBI singles in the bottom half of the frame to even things up. 

However, the Vikings had already tasted blood after getting to the No. 1 seed early, and they were hungry for more. Griswald issued back-to-back walks to start the fifth, allowing Ella Pearson to score from first on an errant throw down and then setting the table for Traffie, who came up with a runner on base and a glint in her eye.

Traffie said she had a healthy respect for Griswald coming into the game, but she was still confident and ready. 

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"I was a little nervous, but I hit well off of faster pitchers, and I just knew I had to come in and do my job and hit the ball,” Traffie said.

Hit it she did. After battling through an at-bat, the speedy center fielder got all of Griswald's juiciest offering, mashing it down the left-field line and over the fence for her first career home run at any level. 

"I didn't know [it was a home run] until I was almost to third base when I saw everyone crowding around home plate," Traffie said. "It felt so amazing, really made me feel like I did something good for the team."

Pearson walked and scored in the sixth to add some insurance at 8-4, but the job wasn't quite done. Davis, who pitched a solid game on the mound despite some big hits from the top-seeded team, loaded the bases with no outs and scored three runs on a Dory Roy ground-rule double and an Eliza Wagstaff infield single.

For a moment, it looked like all the Vikings’ ecstasy might crumble away and the Engineers would return to the championship course they'd charted all season. The Vikings had other plans, though.

St. John and Pearson had been alert all game waiting for Engineer baserunners to stray off third and potentially start a rundown; finally, it happened, as a throw down to third caught Roy off base and Pearson made the tag after a scramble. 

Davis got her 11th strikeout to start the seventh and induced two groundouts to unleash the Viking celebration. 

The loss was only the second all season for No. 1 Woodsville (16-2) and the first time the Engineers had given up more than seven runs all season, as they had outscored opponents 247-31 entering Wednesday's game. Woodsville started the season on a 11-game win streak before losing to Pittsburg-Canaan and entered the playoffs on another four-game streak, shutting out Wilton-Lyndeborough 19-0 in the quarterfinals.

Mascenic had a rockier start to their first season in DIV, coming out up-and-down at 5-4 before turning things around with a May 8 win over WLC that launched what's now a 10-game winning streak. 

Traffie credited her team's "attitudes and our motivation to win" for helping turn around their season and allowing them to persevere through key injuries to starters Val Stenersen and Lexis Vautour and make their first championship game appearance since 2017

"Partway through the season, with all of our teammates getting injured, I was like 'Oh man, I don't know how this season is going to go,'" Traffie said. "But we're going far."

Mascenic (15-4) will face No. 2 Portsmouth Christian at Plymouth State Saturday at 4:30 p.m. for the championship.