“We kind of grew together as a group as the season went on,” said Carter-Donahue. “Come tournament time we really hit our stride. Everyone jelled; we worked hard and got the ultimate prize.”
The Crusaders suffered just one blemish on their record, an early season loss to Dracut, but went on to win 21 straight. Marcincowski may not have been the best the pitcher in the state that year, but she was the best pitcher throughout the state tournament.
Of course, most people probably remember the state semifinal game against Wellesley more than the championship contest over Agawam. Marcincowski went head-to-head with the perhaps the most talked about pitcher in Eastern Mass, Raiders’ superstar Lisa Moore.
Marcinkowski came out on top in a brilliant pitcher’s duel, 1-0, as Fenwick outscored its six tournament foes 45-16, including two Marcinkowski shutouts. Three players (Carter-Donahue, Kristen Daley and Marcinkowski) hit over .400 in the playoffs; Laura Carlson (.536 regular season batting average) and Katie Collins were also fierce at the plate; and overall, Fenwick was a team that would not be denied the title.
“I think we were decent hitters and had decent averages — consistent,” Carter-Donahue recalled. “I think our defense helped us propel through the tournament, too. Our defense was really good and helped us along.”
Six years later, Fenwick’s statewise dominance had long been established. The team expected nothing less than to keep their string of state titles intact; they went into that season with T-shirts made up that read ‘Lucky 7 in ‘96’.
A tremendous amount of confidence and experience — not to mention 34 straight tournament victories — followed them wherever the Crusaders went. They were masters of the diamond, experts on psyching out their opponents and virtually winning games before the first pitch had been thrown.
Other teams would fear when the Crusaders drove up in their bus; their ride was usually covered in streamers and the girls banging on the windows in hopes of giving their opponents a little taste of intimidation. Sometimes they even pretended to read newspapers on the bench while the other teams warmed up or were announced. It was all in an effort to get in the heads of their opponents, which more often than not worked.