Indians seeking 10th straight title
Frontier 5/1/13. Turners Falls pitcher #15 Dakota Smith-Porter, starts her delivery to the plate in the bottom of the 1st inning.
photo by J. Anthony Roberts
Brittany York connects
Turners Falls High School has been on the run of lifetime in the Western Massachusetts Softball Tournament, having won 29 consecutive games and nine straight sectional titles, including the last seven in row in Division III.
This will unquestionably be their toughest assignment yet, and they’ll actually enter the contest as an underdog — something that hasn’t happened in a least a decade.
In a matchup that had been anticipated since the fist day of preseason practice, the second-seeded Indians will face top-seeded Mt. Everett Regional School in the WMass Division III championship at UMass’ Sortino Field.
The game is scheduled to be played today at noon, although the weather forecast could be the determining factor — at press time, there was still an 80 percent chance of rain.
Tournament Director Gary Stacy said Friday afternoon that he will make a final decision on whether to play by 8 a.m. this morning. It will be then be posted on the miaa.net website.
If you’re looking for good pitching in a final, there may not be a better matchup than what this contest will provide. Turners (20-2) will send senior Dakota Smith-Porter to the circle, on the field she’ll call home for the next four seasons. The UMass-bound Smith-Porter bounced back from an uneven quarterfinal effort to hurl six innings of three-hit, shutout ball in an 8-0 semifinal win over Granby High School.
The Eagles (21-1) will rely on the power of junior righty Alicia Bazonski, who has had a phenomenal season in the Berkshires, firing three no-hitters and recording double-digit strikeouts in all but three games. She registered a three-hit shutout and fanned 11 in a 3-0 semifinal victory over county rival St. Joseph’s Central High School of Pittsfield. Bazonski’s fastball has been clocked in the low 60s.
Both also field their position well — Smith-Porter has been perfect in the postseason with three putouts and seven assists, and has started two double plays, while Bazonski threw out two runners at the plate Thursday on squeeze bunt attempts.
Another intriguing aspect of this matchup is that neither pitcher is a one-trick pony. Smith-Porter is hitting .569 for the season after she went 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs against Granby, extending her postseason hitting streak to 12 games. Bazonski, meanwhile, is Everett’s cleanup hitter and smacked a two-run double vs. St. Joe’s.
Both teams have key parts of their batting orders that can get the job done. Turners has gotten the usual consistent contributions from leadoff hitter Jenna Putala and third/fourth hitter Tanisha Sanders, as well as first-year starter Mackenzie Salls, while Everett has gotten timely production from junior Natasha MacLeay, sophomore Samantha Hoover and eighth-grader Kersten Cutlip.
Neither team has an overabundance of senior starters, so postseason meetings could become a regular occurrence — Turners has Smith-Porter, Sanders, right fielder Brittany York and third baseman Breanna Breault. Everett’s entire outfield is made up of 12th-graders — Taylor Garrett (left), Haley Finn (center) and Alex Hoover (right).
On the surface, this game has all the makings of their two previous meetings in the finals — Turners won a 10-inning, 2-1 decison in 2008, and also won the 2011 meeting, 1-0.