Lowell’s Giana LaCedra doesn’t shy away under pressure. Rather, she thrives on it.
The freshman stepped up to the plate with two outs in the top of the fifth inning of scoreless game at No. 3 Methuen, and senior Laura Heslin, who had reached on a single, waiting anxiously on first base.
With an 0-1 count, LaCedra rifled the ball to right field and peeled into second base for a stand-up RBI double. It proved to be the difference-maker as the No. 20 Raiders (4-0) topped the host Rangers , 1-0, in a Merrimack Valley Conference matchup on Wednesday afternoon.
“We were struggling a little bit,” said LaCedra, who went 1 for 3. “I just had to get it in play and see what happened.”
The newcomer also had the chance to show her poise defensively, striking out 15 while allowing five hits and walking two. Two of those hits came in the bottom of the third, when Methuen’s Stephanie Tardugno and Claudia Crowe both singled, then stole second and third to sit in scoring position with just one out.
LaCedra refused to falter and struck out the next two Methuen batters to end the inning.
“[LaCedra] doesn’t get rattled,” said Lowell coach Bo Durso. “That’s a good thing. She has a good head on her shoulders. She’s going to do a lot of good things for us.”
For Methuen (2-1), junior Jillian McCoy threw seven innings of five-hit ball, striking out 11 Lowell batters. Crowe, a junior, went 3-for-3 at the plate, and senior Nyah Mazzone tacked on a single.
The Raiders’ victory spoiled a celebration for Methuen coach Jason Smith, who would have earned his 200th career win in 14 seasons with the Rangers (199-91).
“We didn’t hit the ball or approach things at the plate the way that I think we’re capable of,” Smith said. “We knew that they were going to be tough. We’ll learn from this.”
Lowell’s victory comes on the heels of wins over No. 5 Acton-Boxborough and No. 7 Braintree. Though it’s early in the season, the Raiders know they will be a force to be reckoned with — and plan to keep it up.
“Even though people are doubting us, as long as we’re working hard and continuing to do what we’re doing, then we’re going to get noticed more,” Heslin said. “[Lowell will] become a threat in the league.”
Arlington 8, Melrose 2 — Junior Natalie Swift struck out 10 batters and allowed only one earned run for the Spy Ponders (2-1).
Bridgewater-Raynham 11, Plymouth North 0 — Junior Julia Ferry pitched a shutout, striking out 18 hitters, allowing one walk and two hits. Junior Summer Sheerin went 4-for-5, logging 2 triples, 2 runs, and 5 RBIs. Senior Kylee Tische went 3-for-3 with 2 runs as the 11th-ranked Trojans (6-0) rolled.
Brooks 13, Rivers 3 — Freshman Sara Moeller struck out 10 batters for the Bishops.
Chelmsford 11, Haverhill 6 — Junior Emma Gelineau went 3-for-4 with 6 RBIs to propel the Lions (3-1). Senior Abby Cassidy recorded 2 hits and 2 RBIs while senior Kira Garrity notched 2 hits and an RBI.
Dighton-Rehoboth 9, Somerset Berkley 1 — Sophomore Nicole Corey went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and sophomore Kyleigh McGreevey drove in two runs for the Falcons (5-1).
Gloucester 7, Peabody 1 — Senior Tracy Wood hit two home runs and totaled 5 RBIs for the Fishermen (3-0).
Hopkinton 13, Milford 1 — Freshman Julianna Ceddia went 5-for-5 at the plate and struck out 11 on the mound, as the Hillers (4-1) rolled in six innings.
Latin Academy 11, Canton 4 — Senior Jessica Rynne notched three hits in four at-bats for the Dragons (4-1), hitting a home run and recording four RBIs.
Marblehead 4, Swampscott 2 — Sophomore Madi Monahan and senior Mercedes Pelletier each recorded three hits for the Magicians (2-1).
Marshfield 9, Brockton 0 — Junior Brianna Melchionda threw a one-hitter, striking out 15 for the Rams (3-2).
Medford 18, Lynn English 5 — Senior captain Brenna Forbes scored five runs and freshman Caresa Andrews scored four runs with four stolen bases for the No. 16 Mustangs (4-0).
Saugus 2, Danvers 1 — Junior Emily Doble struck out seven over five strong innings and Becky Zellin drove in both runs for the Falcons (2-0).
St. Mary’s 20, Pope John 0 — Freshman Lily Newhall threw a one-hitter for the Spartans (4-1).
Wilmington 9, Belmont 0 — Ally Moran struck out 10 batters to lead the Wildcats (2-0).
Woburn 9, Burlington 7 — Senior Jill Vecchia went 4-for-4 to lead the Tanners (1-2) to their first win.
Apponequet 14, Old Rochester 1 — Senior catcher Sean Buffer went 4-for-4 with three doubles for the Lakers (3-0).
Arlington 2, Melrose 1 — Senior Adam Bowler went the distance on the mound to give the Spy Ponders (1-2) their first win.
Austin Prep 9, Woburn 1 — Senior left-hander Cam Seguin struck out 10 and allowed just three hits in a complete-game effort for the sixth-ranked Cougars (4-0).
BB&N 3, Governor’s Academy 2 — Senior John Day pitched the complete game and went 3-for-3 at the plate, driving in the winning run for BB&N (1-4) in its first win of the season.
Belmont Hill 7, Tabor 0 — Seniors Bryce Anderson and Evan Sleight both hit home runs for Belmont Hill (4-4).
Bishop Fenwick 6, Arlington Catholic 5 — Ethan Belt launched a two-run homer and Corey Bright put the Spartans (4-2) ahead with an RBI double in the sixth inning.
Bourne 8, Case 7 — Senior Alex Sorenti-Burns hit a two-run walk-off double in the bottom of the eighth inning to secure the win for the Canalmen (2-2).
Braintree 9, Marshfield 5 — Jack Noonan, Mike Tellier, and Mike Valcenti each logged three hits with 2 RBI to pace the fifth-ranked Wamps (4-1).
Brighton 4, Fenway 2 — Junior Robert Martinez struck out 11 and allowed two hits in a complete-game effort to get the Bengals (1-4) their first win.
Burlington 10, Cambridge 3 — Senior Cam Wheelock tossed six strong innings to earn his first varsity win and the Red Devils (1-2) first win of the season.
Lawrence Academy 7, St. Mark’s 0 — Stanford-bound Max Meyer threw a no-hitter as he struck out 11 to lead the Spartans (3-1). Junior Evan Burke notched two hits and three RBIs.
Lexington 5, Stoneham 2 — Graham Seed struck out 15 for the Minutemen (3-2).
Lynn Classical 7, Everett 2 — Junior Aidan Dow allowed one run over six innings to pick up the win for the Rams (2-1).
Malden 3, Somerville 2 — Freshman Shai Cohen laid down a suicide squeeze bunt in the bottom of the eighth to score junior Ezra Kruckenburg and secure the first win of the season for the Golden Tornados (1-2). Senior lefty Billy Stickney went the distance, striking out 12 and allowing five hits.
Newburyport 16, Essex Tech 3 — Junior Parker McLaren struck out six and gave up just one earned run while going the distance for the Clippers (3-1). Sophomore Nick White hit a two-run double as one of Newburyport’s 20 hits.
Nobles 10, Roxbury Latin 0 — Senior captain Jack Schwartz (two strikeouts) pitched a no-hitter for the Bulldogs (2-3).
North Andover 3, Tewksbury 2 — Brett Dunham threw a complete game in his first varsity start on the mound and Jake McElroy went 2-for-3 to pace the No. 7 Scarlet Knights (4-0).
Pingree 9, Berwick 5 — Senior Conor Whalen went 3-for-3 with a walk, 2 runs, and 2 RBIs. Junior Amogh Prakash, senior Pete Nichols, and senior Cooper McGrath had two hits apiece for the Highlanders (5-3).
Rivers 12, Brooks 5 — Senior Cade Webber and junior Ben Genser both recorded four hits for the Red Wings (2-2).
St. Sebastian’s 11, St. George’s 1 — Senior pitcher Tim Noone allowed no hits and struck out seven over four innings pitched for the Arrows (8-0).
Stoughton 3, West Bridgewater 0 — Sophomore righty Brady Conlin struck out 11 in a complete-game effort for the Knights (5-1).
Watertown 13, Winchester 10 — George Darmody slugged a three-run double and Brennan Cook had a 2-RBI double to pace the Raiders (3-2) in a Middlesex League slugfest.
Whitman-Hanson 2, Scituate 1 — Senior Rian Schwede hurled a one-hitter for the Panthers (3-0), going seven full innings and striking out five with one unearned run. Sophomores Tom Marshall and Danny Kent scored for W-H.
Wilmington 5, Belmont 4 — Senior Peter Marino hit a walk-off double to secure the win for the Wildcats (2-1).
Hanover 18, Rockland 4 — Senior captain Mike Simon struck out eight to earn his third win of the season. He also added three hits and three RBIs at the dish to lead the Indians (3-1).
Hanover 16, Rockland 3 —Junior Anthony Nofi got the win in the doubleheader sweep for the Indians (4-1) and recorded two hits and four RBIs at the plate.
Maimonides 11, Saint Joseph Prep 1 — Senior Aaron Weinstock tossed a complete game, while junior catcher Hillel Schwartz logged two hits in three at bats with a double and four RBIs for the M-Cats (2-1).
Rivers 10, Brooks 7 — Senior Chris Bucking and freshman Nick Bell both scored two goals and added two assists for Rivers (7-1).
Marblehead 8, Masconomet 7 — Ryan Castle netted a hat trick and Randy Castle made 8 saves, but the Chieftains (3-2) comeback bid came up short.
Medway 15, Bishop Feehan 5 — Junior Chris Nicklas scored five goals and added an assist for the Mustangs (5-1).
Silver Lake 10, North Attleborough 6 — Senior Sean Daly scored his 100th career goal as he paced the Lakers (4-1) with three goals and two helpers. Classmate Brendan Dean also added three goals and one assist, and junior Dhruva Nugent added four assists.
Apponequet 17, New Bedford 2 — Senior Lily Gendron scored her 100th career goal for the Lakers (3-0), as she scored five goals in the rout.
Dartmouth 17, Attleboro 7 — Sofie Reardon scored six goals, Sorelle Lawton added four goals, and Logan Piva and Kate Sequin each scored their first varsity goals for the Indians (3-0).
Westwood 20, Duxbury 9 — Alex Finn scored eight goals to lead the eighth-ranked Wolverines (4-1) past the No. 13 Dragons (3-3).
OBryant 3, Somerville 1 — Junior Raymond Zeng led the way for the Tigers (3-4) with 10 kills in the win.
Winchester 3, Wayland 1 — Senior captain James Chung notched 19 kills and senior captain Sam Cardnetta added 12 kills for the Sachems (5-0).Jenna Ciccotelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org