TEWKSBURY -- Once the state softball tournament begins throw out a team's won-loss record since every club that makes the postseason cut is only as good as that day's pitcher.
Tewksbury High senior right-hander Shannon McLaughlin was much better than good in the sectional opener. She was down right dominant, and her teammates followed her lead.
McLaughlin fired a 1-hitter with 2 walks and 11 strikeouts while leading host Tewksbury past Newburyport, 6-0, in a Division 2 North first round game.
Senior Brooke Hardy led the way on offense for Tewksbury, going 3-for-3 at the plate with 3 runs scored and an RBI. Anna Sessa made her presence felt offensively, blasting a 2-run homer to left field in the fifth.
Tewksbury (15-6) will play at Arlington (17-4) in a quarterfinal matchup Sunday at 1 p.m.
"This was a good way to start off states," said McLaughlin. "It's definitely a great win. I was excited out there. It's probably my last home game. The team was playing awesome defense behind me. We were amped up and ready to go."
McLaughlin, the Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1 Player of the Year, certain got off to a fast start, striking out the side in the first. She had seven strikeouts through three innings.
Newburyport's Ashley Hodge broke up the no-hit bid with a leadoff single in the sixth.
"I'm fine with a 1-hitter," said McLaughlin. "I really wasn't thinking about a no-hitter. I was just trying to focus on each batter. I like to go out there and pitch and let the defense make the plays.
"It was a great win for our team. We all played really well. We got a ton of runs. Everyone was hitting the ball really well today."
McLaughlin just reared back and fired and Newburyport's hitters had a tough time catching up to her fastball.
"She had her fastball going," said Tewksbury coach Leo DiRocco. "She didn't have to go through her (pitching) repertoire today. She just powered it in there.
"This ranks up there with her strongest performances. Believe it or not, she has pitched better. But she was definitely in control today."
Tewksbury took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Erin Walsh doubled and scored on a single by Hardy. Adriana Favreau knocked in Hardy with a base hit.
In the third, Tewksbury extended its lead to 3-0 as Hardy singled and scored on a single by McLaughlin.
"We had some timely hitting and we jumped on them early," said DiRocco. "That took the pressure off right away."
Tewksbury broke the game open with three runs in the fifth. Hardy singled and scored on a base hit by Teagan Trant. Then Sessa ripped a long 2-run homer to left that upped the lead to 6-0.
"When (Sessa) gets in a groove she can really hit the ball a long way," said DiRocco.
Trant checked in with 3 hits. Kayla Von Kahle also had a hit.
"We're thrilled with this win," said DiRocco. "It's good start to the tournament. I don't know how far we're going to go, but I think we can play with anybody."
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