Wave poised to end title drought

  • Greenfield third baseman Audrey Bresciano knows a thing or two about winning western Mass. titles as she has helped the school’s field hockey team in recent years. Now, she looks to help the softball team to its first title in 32 years. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Greenfield pitcher Olivia Joy will look to lead the Green Wave to its first WMass softball crown in 32 years when the top-seeded Wave faces third-seeded Wahconah in the Division II finals today at 1:30 at Sortino Field in Amherst. Recorder file photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Gianna Conte is only a freshman but has found a spot in the Greenfield lineup this season and came through in the semifinals with two hits. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/15/2018 11:15:40 PM

It’s almost 32 years to the day since the Greenfield High School softball program last won a sectional title.

Can the Green Wave make history this afternoon in Amherst?

Top-seeded Greenfield (18-2) looks to win its first WMass championship since 1986, as it’s set to meet No. 3 Wahconah Regional High School (16-6) in the Div. II title game today at 1:30 p.m. at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

If you’re a fan of storylines, there are plenty involved in today’s championship contest. In Greenfield’s last championship win, the Wave defeated none other than Wahconah on June 14, 1986 by a 4-3 margin at Szot Park in Chicopee.

The program also won titles in 1985 and 1982, though recent history hasn’t been all that kind to the squad. All told, Greenfield is 3-7 in sectional title games, with its most recent appearance in the finals coming in 2009 when the Wave fell to Hampshire Regional High School, 7-5.

“We don’t tend to think about that kind of stuff,” explained Greenfield head coach Rian Lovett, who was a junior on Greenfield’s 2004 team that lost to Turners Falls High School in the finals in a 16-inning, marathon affair. “I want it to just be another game where these girls go out and play softball. They know what to do, so go out and do what you love to do. I don’t want to overhype this game to make them nervous.”

Lovett said seeing Wahconah advance on the other side of the Div. II bracket wasn’t all that surprising. The Warriors dominated second-seeded Hoosac Valley High School in the other semifinal, 14-2, to reach today’s final. Wahconah last played in the championship game in 2015, losing to Hampshire, which won four consecutive Div. II titles before losing to Greenfield in Thursday’s semifinal.

“In the beginning of the season, I looked at Div. II and thought they’re going to be a team that competes with us for the title,” admitted Lovett of the Warriors. “I had a feeling they were going to be a good team.”

Wahconah pitcher Abby Wells will look to battle a Greenfield lineup that has hit the ball well all season long. The left-hander struck out three and allowed four hits in the semifinal win over Hoosac.

The Warriors were aided by six Hoosac errors to earn the lopsided victory, and they scored runs in every inning but the sixth en route to punching their ticket to play Greenfield.

While preparing for an opponent is important this time of year, simply going out and performing is the biggest factor in postseason success. Lovett said Greenfield needs to go out and do what it’s capable of in order to capture a sectional crown.

“We’ve had a really successful year at the plate, in the field, just all-around,” Lovett said. “I really don’t want to change a lot, do anything different. We’ve stressed certain things to make sure we’re prepared for the game. I know their catcher (Jess Warren) is one of their best players so we have to be aggressive, but smart on the base paths.”

Thursday’s semifinal win over Hampshire was a big hurdle for Greenfield to clear. Lovett said the team’s confidence is in a good place after breaking through to the finals.

“It’s a huge relief to win a game there,” she said of Sortino Field. “We did it once, we know we can do it again. It was a huge eye-opener for all the girls, for their confidence.”

Junior Olivia Joy continued her remarkable season with nine strikeouts in the semifinals. In order for Greenfield to be successful against Wahconah this afternoon, Joy is going to have to throw another strong game in the circle.

“She knows she can do it,” lauded Lovett of Joy. “Going into (today’s game), there aren’t as many nerves because of her performance against Hampshire. And she’s a very determined player. She wants to go out there and do it.”

The Greenfield-Wahconah game follows the Div. I title game, which begins the tripleheader of championship games at 11 a.m. when top-seeded Pittsfield High School takes on Northampton High School.

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