Div. 5 Softball: Top seeded Greenfield tested in win over Maynard

  • Greenfield’s MacKenzie Paulin drives in a run in the bottom of the first inning against Ware during the MIAA Div. 5 Round of 32 on Monday in Greenfield. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

For the Recorder
Published: 6/7/2022 9:14:23 PM
Modified: 6/7/2022 9:12:14 PM

GREENFIELD — As comfortable and suspense-free as a 23-run victory may be, the nature of any postseason tournament almost demands that a tight, grinding game is necessary for a contending team to get what it really wants.

Greenfield enjoyed just that kind of walkover Monday night in its MIAA Division 5 softball tournament opener, thumping Ware 24-1. One night later, Tuesday’s Round of 16 game against Maynard promised no easy task for the top-seeded Green Wave. They fell behind the No. 16 Tigers 2-1 in the top of the third, grabbed the lead back with two runs in the bottom of the third, and that’s how it stayed until the end, a narrow 3-2 escape at Veterans Memorial Field.

Greenfield (17-6) next hosts No. 9 seed Hopedale in the quarterfinals Friday at 6 p.m.

Tuesday’s game featured a freshman pitcher’s duel between Greenfield’s MacKenzie Paulin and Maynard’s Jillian Macfarlane. Each worked through rough spots early in the game before settling down. Paulin finished by setting down 12 of the last 14 Tigers’ she faced, with a five-hitter, one walk and 13 strikeouts, including at least one in each of her seven innings of work.

“Onward and upward,” said Greenfield coach John Hickey. “We had some opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of. But three runs were enough today, and a win is a win. MacKenzie definitely did get stronger (as the game went on). She was getting a lot of first-pitch strikes and putting their hitters in bad situations.”

Kelsey Richardson led off the Greenfield second with a ringing double to right-center. With one out, Ainslee Flynn spiked a single to left to score Richardson with the lead run. Flynn then stole second, but Macfarlane retired the next two Wave batters.

The Tigers (15-8), winners of the Central Mass. Division 4 tournament, answered with one out in the third when Nina Chiodo tripled to left-center. Paulin got Neveah Duplessis on a called third strike, but Brooklyn Pileeki drove a double up the gap in right-center, plating Chiodo with the tying run. Julianna Tenaglia blooped a base hit just beyond the infield into short center as Pileeki scored to make it 2-1.

With Hannah McLaughlin batting, catcher Richardson picked off Tenaglia at first to retire the side.

Number 9 hitter Ellis Benitez got the Wave started in the home third with a single to left. With one out, Carly Blanchard reached on an error as Benitez went to second. Paulin then drilled a two-run double to left-center for what proved the winning margin.

Despite some late opportunities, Greenfield couldn’t build its lead. Amber Bergeron reached second on a fielding error with two out in the fourth and was stranded. In both the fifth and sixth, the Wave’s first two batters reached and ended at second and third, but Macfarlane (six-hitter, one walk, seven strikeouts) was able to work her way out of both jams.

“(Macfarlane) stayed away from us a little bit. We hit the ball hard at times, but just right at people,” said Hickey.

McLaughlin (two hits) singled with two out in the Maynard sixth before Paulin finished striking out the side. With two out in the seventh, the Tigers’ Annie Konieczka smacked a hot shot down to first that Bergeron gloved in front of the bag, then took one step backward to record the clinching out.


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