Next up for Tribe: Assabet
One team is looking to add to its storied legacy, the other is seeking revenge for a painful extra-inning loss.
Turners Falls High School and Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School of Marlborough return to the scene of their memorable 2012 battle today at 3 p.m. in the semifinals of the MIAA State Division III Softball Tournament at Worcester State College’s Rockwood Field.
The teams met in a memorable semifinal 2012 duel, also at Rockwood, when the Indians rallied from a four-run deficit and eventually posted a 6-5 nine-inning win on their way to the program’s sixth state championship.
One can be assured that the three-time CMass champion and defending state champion Aztecs (21-3) haven’t forgotten that game, and head coach Michael O’Brien’s crew will do everything in its power to reverse that result.
One player who could cause the Indians fits is sophomore outfielder Josie Burlingame, who hit a cool .631 during the regular season and delivered an RBI single to plate the first run in their 4-0 win over Worcester Technical High School in the CMass final.
Junior pitcher Maddy Parmeter is one of several players Turners faced in that 2012 semifinal, and she continues to be solid in the circle — she pitched a five-hitter with five strikeouts and no walks. She’s not overpowering, but effective. Senior Deanna Hnilica is the catcher.
Juniors Kayla Baker (third) and Jocelyn Orangio (shortstop) give Assabet a solid left side of the infield, while first baseman Jen Casavant is one of four seniors on the roster.
Senior Jen Fortin, sophomore Meg O’Connell, senior Erin Macora and Burlingame have all been outfield regulars, while Giselle Perez comes off the bench as a courtesy runner.
Morgan Foster, who is used as the designated player, smacked a big two-run double during the decisive four-run fourth inning rally against Worcester Tech.
Turners (22-2) looks like a team on a mission since it lost last year’s WMass final — arguably one of the worst single-game performances in the program’s proud history — when it managed just two hits, committed three errors and appeared somewhat distracted.
Fast forward to this season and this edition of the Indians has all the ingredients of a championship squad: fantastic pitching, solid defense, a productive offense, plenty of leadership, and no distractions, on or off the field.
A great example of how tight-knit this team is occurred before the top of the second inning, when junior third baseman Amber Caouette — who had roped an RBI triple in the opening frame — was fielding a grounder during the between-innings warm-up. Freshman shortstop Gabby Arzuaga walked up behind her and smiled as she gave Caouette a celebratory bear hug, which caused Caouette to smile. It’s that type of team unity that helps keep the mood relaxed, even in the biggest of games. Furthermore, it was clear that this team is not only playing extremely well when it counts most, but the players are having fun at the same time.
But the main reason teams like Assabet should be concerned about the Indians is that they’re getting it done both offensively and defensively, having outscored their four opponents by a mind-boggling 49-1 margin, and sophomore Mackenzie Phillips has allowed just four hits in four games while throwing a five-inning no-hitter in the first round and a perfect game in Saturday’s final.
Indians head coach Gary Mullins said he’ll stick with his regular lineup, with Morgan Ozdarski catching, Mackenzie Salls, Jenna Putala, Arzuaga and Caouette around the horn, and Haley Whipple, Emma Johnson and Jordyn Fiske from left to right in the outfield.
Mullins said he’s been pleased with the job freshman Maddy Johnson has dome coming come off the bench, and he also has the recently-cleared Jordan Meattey available to pinch-hit.
Today’s winner advances to Saturday’s state final , also at Rockwood Field, at a time to be announced.