Div. 2 softball final: Diving catch over the fence saves Hampshire in 6-4 win over Greenfield

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  • Greenfield's Mackenzie Paulin tags back safely to first base under the glove of Hampshire Regional's Hannah Wodecki in the second inning of the Green Wave's 6-4 loss to Hampshire Regional in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship on Friday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Greenfield’s Rachel Dodge hauls in a throw with Hampshire Regional’s Brianna Sulikowski sliding into third base during the Green Wave's 6-4 loss to Hampshire Regional in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Greenfield players pose with their Western Massachusetts Division 2 finalist trophy after a 6-4 loss to Hampshire Regional on Friday, June 25, 2021, at Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Greenfield players applaud Hampshire Regional as the Red Raiders accept the Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship trophy on Friday, June 25, 2021, at Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Greenfield players Gianna Conte, left, Kelsey Richardson and Katie Haselton accept the Western Massachusetts Division 2 finalist trophy from Athletic Director Michael Kuchieski after a 6-4 loss to Hampshire Regional on Friday, June 25, 2021, at Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Greenfield catcher Kelsey Richardson, left, pitcher Gianna Conte and second baseman Mackenzie Paulin head off the field after a successful first inning in the Green Wave’s 6-4 loss to Hampshire Regional in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Greenfield players line up to accept the Western Massachusetts Division 2 finalist trophy after a 6-4 loss to Hampshire Regional on Friday, June 25, 2021, at Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Greenfield freshman Carly Blanchard singles in the third inning of the Green Wave’s 6-4 loss to Hampshire Regional in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship on Friday, June 25, 2021, at Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Greenfield junior catcher Kelsey Richardson lands a foul ball by Hampshire Regional’s Hannah Wodecki to make the first out in the third inning of the Green Wave’s 6-4 loss to the Red Raiders in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship on Friday, June 25, 2021, at Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Greenfield sophomore Brielle Widelo (9) leans away from an inside pitch caught by Hampshire Regional’s Katelyn Labrie in the third inning of the Green Wave’s 6-4 loss to Hampshire Regional in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship on Friday, June 25, 2021, at Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Greenfield players watch Kelsey Richardson hit a single in the sixth inning of the Green Wave’s 6-4 loss to Hampshire Regional in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship on Friday, June 25, 2021, at Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Greenfield senior pitcher Gianna Conte delivers to a Hampshire Regional batter in the sixth inning of the Green Wave’s 6-4 loss to the Red Raiders in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship on Friday, June 25, 2021, at Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 6/25/2021 9:47:40 PM

WESTHAMPTON — Katie Haselton gave Greenfield a chance.

Hampshire Regional's Katelyn Baker snatched it away.

Down two runs in Friday’s Western Massachusetts Division 2 softball final, Haselton stood in the batter’s box with two outs and Mackenzie Paulin on first base. The sixth-seeded Green Wave had already scored two runs in the top of the seventh to pull within striking distance.

Hampshire pitcher Jocelyn Mettey delivered the 1-2 pitch, and Haselton connected with a pop — the kind of sound that usually signals a home run, and in this case a tie game. But Baker was tracking back from the moment the ball hit the bat. The Raiders center fielder leaped at the center field wall and snagged the ball in her glove, somersaulting over the fence to secure a 6-4 Raiders victory.

“I thought by the looks of it and how far back the center fielder was, I thought for sure that was out,” Haselton said. “But she made a remarkable catch, and it’s unfortunate for us.”

It was Hampshire’s second consecutive Western Mass. title and sixth in the past seven years. The undefeated Raiders will host Central Mass. champion Tyngsboro in the state semifinals at 5 p.m. Monday.

Hampshire, the top seed, initially looked poised for a runaway. Theresa Saltis put the Raiders up 2-0 with a sharp two-out single in the bottom of the second. Katelyn Labrie singled, and Ashley Cortis laid down a bunt single in front of her before two Gianna Conte strikeouts put the onus on Saltis.

The Raiders widened the gap in the fifth. Baker — also the leadoff hitter — sparked a four-run inning with a single. She then stole second and third before Hampshire senior Maggie Rubeck brought her home with a sacrifice fly. Hannah Wodecki made it 4-0 with a solo homer to center field. She barely missed a home run in the first when a double hit the top of the wall and stayed in the park. With three hits in the game, she was named the Gary Stacy MVP as the tournament’s most outstanding player.

The bottom of Hampshire’s lineup delivered again later in the inning. Bri Sulikowski earned a two-out walk, then Cortis sent her to third with a single and stole second. Labrie brought them both home with a double to push the Raiders advantage to 6-0.

“That’s been happening the last part of the year, the bottom of the order has been really picking up the pace,” Hampshire coach Brian McGan. “When the top struggles, the bottom’s been picking them up.”

Trailing by six runs against the defending champions on their home field with six outs left would have broken many teams. Not the Green Wave.

“Most teams probably would have folded,” Greenfield coach John Hickey said. “We have no quit in us.”

Greenfield’s Kelsey Richardson opened the third with a double then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Paulin brought her home with an RBI triple and knocked third base off the hinges sliding in safely. Hampshire had a moment to collect itself while McGan replaced the base, but the Green Wave kept coming. Haselton laced an RBI single to cut the Raiders’ lead to 6-2 before two ground outs and a strikeout ended the inning.

Brielle Widelo kept it going for Greenfield with a leadoff single in the seventh, then Kaitlin Lavoine reached on an error. Carly Blanchard dropped a single into the outfield, but Hampshire threw Widelo out going for home. A Richardson ground out moved the remaining two runners to second and third with two outs down four.

Paulin hit a pop up to shortstop that should have ended the game, but the ball dropped and allowed both runs to score, sending Haselton to the plate.

“It started with Kelsey, we just kept going with it,” Haselton said.

They almost made it, too.

The Green Wave will only graduate two players from this year’s finalist roster: Haselton and Conte.

“We played right to the end, that’s all you can ask for as a coach,” Hickey said. “We were fortunate to be here, and we gave them a run for their money.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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