WILMINGTON — The Town Crier believes that Ally Moran will make program history come Thursday afternoon.
The senior pitcher will be the starting pitcher for the fourth consecutive year that the Wildcats have made the state tournament and we believe that has never been done before. Hall of Fame pitcher Jackee Joyce did it three times, the combination of Robin Mainini and Katelyn Sughrue did it three times in 99-01 and before that Adrienne Fay did it twice, leading the 'Cats to back-to-back state championship titles in '93 and '94.
Even if our records are not correct, it's still one heck of an accomplishment. Last Thursday, Moran won her 50th game on the hill for the 'Cats, while she added four more strikeouts to her career stats, giving her a whopping 655 in her career.
She will toe the rubber when the 'Cats travel to take on Essex Tech in the first round of the Division 2 North Tournament. Last year, Moran pitched the game of her career, a 1-0 loss to highly touted Dracut. The year before, she led the team to a first round victory over Bedford before losing another 1-0 game to Swampscott. As a freshman, she helped Wilmington top Gloucester in the first round before losing to Arlington in the next game.
So far this season, she has a 14-6 record and has tossed every single inning. She has five shut outs and 13 times she has struck out ten batters or more in a game.
Her career stats are also pretty impressive. In 505.1 innings, she has given up 145 runs and sports a 2.01 ERA. She has the 655 strikeouts, while walking 193 batters. Of the 50 wins, 15 have come by shut out.
"Ally has a lot of experience in the post-season and has pitched in some big games," said assistant head coach Walter Babcock. "We lost a couple of tough games to Swampscott and Dracut and I thought she pitched very well in those games. She's a senior now and she has that experience."
Last year's state tournament game against Dracut was certainly a classic. The Middies won the game on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh but heading into the game, it was thought to be a cakewalk for Dracut, who was led by their own ace pitcher Ryley White, who is once again back for this season.
"Everyone thought that we were going to get blown away by Dracut and we didn't," said Moran. "We fought the entire way and honestly in the tournament, anyone can win. The underdogs can comeback and win."
If Moran can pitch like she did against Dracut last year, her teammates can make the plays behind her, all the while coming away with a run or two, the 'Cats could certainly make some noise in this year's tournament, which appears to be wide-open.
“I’ve had the playoff experience over the years, so that helps me personally," she said. "But for the team, we kind of struggled hitting in the middle of the season and we have been getting the bats together now which is great, just in time for the tournament. We're going to need our bats if we're going to win.
"We have to hit, play clean defense and I think we have to stay up on ourselves. Once one person makes an error, that just gets into everybody's heads so we just have to stay up as a team and keep everyone positive and just help each other out."
Moran may not be the flamethrower that White or some other local pitchers may be, but she really locates her pitches well and when her change-up is on, she is tough to beat.
"She kept Dracut off-balance and it was a great match-up between her and Ryley White," said Babcock. "When Ally hits her spots (she is effective). Location is key. She throws some pitches at eye-level and she has a great change-up that drops and she has a drop-curve, but I told her that she had to throw some high fastballs up near the letters and we really worked on that.
"We try to get ahead of the count with fastballs and she'll throw change-ups at different times in the count, even first pitch and on a full count, she has the confidence and we as coaches have the confidence to throw the change-up at any time. She works hard at all of that, she really does."
Once this year's season is completed, Moran will take her right arm and cleats to Framingham State University and be part of the recently crowned CAC Champion squad.
"I had a couple of schools looking at me and I was interested in a few others as well," she said. "I did some overnights at some schools that I was deciding between and I just though the chemistry with the team at Framingham was just the best. They were just so welcoming to me and the other recruits too, and they just all made us feel like we were already on the team."
Until she gets on that team, she feels that she has some unfinished business with the current Wildcats.
"I'm happy with the way that we have played all season. I thought it was going to be a little rough, coming in (this season) with a whole new infield and a bunch of girls who switched to different positions, but everyone worked hard in practice and it worked out," she said.