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Can Indians roll a 7?

  • The girls of Turners Falls softball storm home plate to congratulate Amber Caouette, #6, for a home run hit during the division III semifinals against the Assabet Regional Aztecs at Worcester State on Wednesday. The home run was the second in a row during the fifth inning.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    The girls of Turners Falls softball storm home plate to congratulate Amber Caouette, #6, for a home run hit during the division III semifinals against the Assabet Regional Aztecs at Worcester State on Wednesday. The home run was the second in a row during the fifth inning.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • Turners Falls Morgan Ozdarski, #16, takes a swing during their Division III semi-final game against the Assabet Regional Aztecs at Worcester State on Wednesday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    Turners Falls Morgan Ozdarski, #16, takes a swing during their Division III semi-final game against the Assabet Regional Aztecs at Worcester State on Wednesday.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • Turners Falls Jordan Fiske scoops up a hit to throw to first during the Division III semifinals against the Assabet Regional Aztecs at Worcester State on Wednesday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    Turners Falls Jordan Fiske scoops up a hit to throw to first during the Division III semifinals against the Assabet Regional Aztecs at Worcester State on Wednesday.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • The girls of Turners Falls softball storm home plate to congratulate Amber Caouette, #6, for a home run hit during the division III semifinals against the Assabet Regional Aztecs at Worcester State on Wednesday. The home run was the second in a row during the fifth inning.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • Turners Falls Morgan Ozdarski, #16, takes a swing during their Division III semi-final game against the Assabet Regional Aztecs at Worcester State on Wednesday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • Turners Falls Jordan Fiske scoops up a hit to throw to first during the Division III semifinals against the Assabet Regional Aztecs at Worcester State on Wednesday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

Turners Falls High School has been here before — 11 times to be exact. The Indians weren’t able to lift the championship trophy until 2004, but since then they’ve done so six times.

Now they’d like to reach seventh heaven against a talented eastern Massachusetts opponent that has never even made it this far before.

Turners, which captured the 2012 crown but failed to reach the states last season, wants to atone for that missed opportunity today at 1 p.m. when it takes on South sectional champion Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical High School in the MIAA State Division III Softball Championship at Worcester State University’s Rockwood Field.

The Bears (21-9) have played the most games of any team in the state this season, due to playing two exclusionary games — those do not count toward tournament qualification — and two in the State Vocational Tournament. They’re also on a roll since a five-game midseason losing slide, having won 12 straight heading into today’s final.

Most of that has been due in part to their fabulous freshman pitcher Neely Eddleston, who has been in the circle for all 12 of those wins and is 13-5 overall. On Wednesday, Eddleston fired a four-hit shutout with six strikeouts in a 3-0 state semifinal win over St. Mary’s High School of Lynn. She fanned six of the first 10 batters she faced, allowed no hits after the fourth inning and retired 13 of the final 16 batters.

Given the quality of the competition Eddleston and GNB Voke faced during the regular season, and their appearance in today’s game shouldn’t come as a complete surprise — especially to longtime Turners softball fans. The South Coast Conference features two teams the Indians have faced in a state final: Joseph Case of Swansea and Dighton-Rehoboth Regional, as well as longtime softball power Apponequet Regional of Mattapoisett.

Eddleston — who was brought up from the junior varsity when an elbow injury shelved senior Sarah Perry — is by no means a one-woman show. Most of the five GNB Voke seniors have played a key role in their current run. Jennifer Piers, the Bears’ third hitter, has been a calming presence behind the plate for Eddleston while hitting over .400 and driving in a team-high 35 runs, second baseman Katelyn Couto and third baseman Megan Young are the leaders of a consistent and solid defense, and Brooke Tetreault usually hits for Eddleston and doubled in the semifinals.

Sophomore leadoff batter Rileigh Avila and junior cleanup hitter Krystin Sylvia also carry above .400 averages, and Avila leads the team with 42 hits. The team averages 10 hits per game.

The Bears’ offense has scored just five runs in their last two games, and finished with only six hits in the semifinals while getting no-hit by a freshman reliever over the final three innings. But the Bears have taken advantage of the double-digit errors their tourney opponents have made (Diman Vocational committed seven, and St. Mary’s made two on the same play that allowed two runs score). They will also use trick plays on the bases and force defenses to make mistakes. The Indians need to focus on the defensive fundamentals that have made head coach Gary Mullins’ squads perennial title contenders since 2000.

GNB Voke head coach Mark Collins told reporters after Wednesday night’s historic win for the program that this team may possess the right ingredients to win its first-ever state title.

“I’ve had teams that were more talented, but this team has been magical,” he said. “These kids make the plays in the field, they’re fearless at the plate and Neely has given us a huge lift on the mound.”

While the Bears are making their first appearance at Rockwood Field, one could suggest that Turners has a home-field advantage of sorts — this will be the Indians’ 19th game all-time at the facility, and they sport an impressive 13-5 record in those games.

Turners used a few well-timed hits to post a 5-1 semifinal win over Assabet Valley Tech, but the defense was not up to its usual standards. The Indians committed four errors (three of them with two outs), but were able to escape any major damage by limiting the Aztecs’ chances after the miscues.

Senior catcher Morgan Ozdarski made one of the errors on a dropped foul pop-up. She more than atoned for it in the fourth — after the leadoff hitter reached on an infield error — with a spectacular diving catch of a bunt attempt that was popped up foul behind her. It’s a testament to Ozdarski’s tireless work ethic behind the plate, one that’s earned plenty of well-deserved praise from her coaches and teammates.

Sophomore pitcher Mackenzie Phillips struggled at times in Wednesday’s semifinal, allowing eight hits and two walks in all, but she will undoubtedly play a major factor in today’s outcome when she faces a GNB club that doesn’t rip the cover off the ball but can make regular contact, according to one scouting report.

Although Turners’ hit totals are down over the past two games, their timing has been much better. Phillips supported herself with a two-out, two-run single in the first inning against Assabet to open the scoring, and Jenna Putala and Amber Caouette both blasted homers in the fifth, right after a great defensive play stopped a potential Aztecs rally in the top of the frame.

Caouette has been the Indians’ hottest batter in the postseason with 10 hits and four RBIs (she’s 7-for-10 in the last three games alone). Putala broke out of a mini slump with her second postseason round-tripper, and her offensive resurgence could be pivotal in this contest. Turners will lean on them, as well as Ozdarski and center fielder Emma Johnson, because of their postseason experience. If any of the rookies can produce in big spots, that’s a bonus that any team would take in a state title game.

For Mullins, he likes his team’s chances with the sophomore in the circle, and the experience of having been there before.

“I think Mac gives us a chance to win a game,” he said. “I wouldn’t bet against us.”

(Note: Due to the forecast of possible rain today, fans who plan to attend the game should check www.miaa.net or twitter for real-time updates in case the game is postponed or delayed).

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