Warriors oust Frontier, 7-4
UMass Sortino Field. Frontier's #9 Amanda Robinson, applies the tag on Wahconah's #42 Elizabeth King before she can get her foot to the bag in the bottom of the 4th. photo by J Anthony Roberts
UMass Sortino Field 6/5/13. Frontier's pitcher #18 Krystel Enko, starts her delivery to the plate in the bottom of the 4th. photo by J Anthony Roberts
UMass Sortino Field 6/5/13. Frontier's pitcher #18 Krystel Enko, goes into her wind up to the plate in the bottom of the 1st. photo by J Anthony Roberts
UMass Sortino Field 6/5/13. Frontier's pitcher #18 Krystel Enko, fires the ball in on the Wahconah batter in the bottom of the 1st. photo by J Anthony Roberts
UMass Sortino Field 6/5/13. Frontier's 3rd baseman #7 Gwendolyn Thayer, blocks 3rd base with the ball in her glove as Wahconah's #16 Brianna Herforth starts her slide into 3rd base in the bottom of the 4th. photo by J Anthony Roberts
AMHERST — Too many errors, and not enough timely hitting pretty-much sums it up.
An aggressive Wahconah Regional High School offense continuously put the pressure on Frontier Regional School’s defense all afternoon and forced five errors, four that played a part in two big rallies carrying the second-seeded Warriors to a 7-4 Western Massachusetts Division II Softball Tournament semifinal victory Wednesday at Sortino Field.
“In tournament ball, that’s what it comes down to, who makes fewer errors,” said Hawks head coach Carrie Fydenkevez. “You look at the scoreboard and you see five errors. You’re not going to win a tournament game with five errors. We settled down, but we settled down too late.”
It looked as if Frontier (16-7) would ride the momentum of Tuesday’s 13-inning win over Palmer High School, as it scored twice with two outs in the opening frame. Gwen Thayer hit a soft liner to left, Ally Hamelin followed with a flare to left, and McKayla Poissant clouted a double to the warning track in the right-center field gap to plate both runners.
However, the Warriors (20-2) responded by batting around in their half of the first. Erin Grogan drew a leadoff walk and Becca Grunow dropped down a sacrifice bunt that Gwen Thayer lost the handle on, putting runners at first and second (Bayleigh MacHaffie courtesy ran for Grunow). Thayer forced out Grogan on Gabby Lavinio’s grounder, but Bizzy King singled home MacHaffie, and Bridget Lussier blasted a triple to the fence in left-center to plate Lavinio and King to put the Warriors ahead 3-2.
After Lussier scored on a wild pitch, Chloe Warren and Shannon Lussier both reached on errors, but Brennan hit into a fielder’s choice and Frontier pitcher Krystel Enko struck out Beth McBain to end the rally.
Frontier wasted no time in tying the score at 4-4 in the second. Caitlyn Sullivan — Tuesday’s star of the game — led off with a single, went to second on Hannah Adams’ sacrifice bunt and moved to third on Amanda Robinson’s grounder to short. Cassidy Stankowski then came up and simply destroyed Grunow’s second pitch for a long homer that hit the netting protecting the scoreboard in left field.
“I thought that thing was going over the scoreboard,” said Fydenkevez.
Frontier avoided any damage in the second after their fourth error, but the Hawks weren’t as fortunate in the third.
Bridget Lussier was hit by a pitch, went to second on Warren’s sacrifice and went to third on a groundout. Brennan singled her home to put Wahconah back in front, 5-4, Beth McBain singled Brennan to third and she advanced to second the throw, bringing Grogan to the plate.
Grogan, a slap hitter, slapped a ball back to Enko, whose throw to first went wide, scoring Brennan and McBain and advancing Grogan to third.
Grunow popped out to third to end the inning but Wahconah had it 7-4 lead.
Frontier had little problem hitting Grunow, tagging her for 13 hits, but the Red Hawks couldn’t string together enough to rally for any more runs.
In the seventh, Hamelin led off with her fourth single of the game, and Poissant reached on Lavinio’s error. Courtney Newsome flared a single into left field and Hamelin was waved home. She was able to avoid the original tag attempt by catcher Bree Herforth, but her momentum took her past the plate and Herforth alertly reached back and tagged her for the first out of the inning.
It was a huge momentum swing for the Warriors, as Shannon Lussier fielded consecutive grounders by Sullivan and pinch-hitter Sarah Toomey and tagged third for the final two outs.
Hamelin finished 4-for-4, Newsome was 3-for-4 and Enko added a pair of hits for Frontier.
“I can’t complain, we had an amazing year,” said Fydenkevez. “We beat Turners, and we had that win against Palmer. ... I wish could have taken the jitters away for them, but the only thing that’s going to do that is taking this program back here year after year after year, and they get to experience it.”
Stankowski and Enko were the only senior starters, so next season already looks promising.