H.S. Tournaments: Turners Falls softball, Frontier baseball pace local sides as brackets released

  • Turners Falls’ Taylor Murphy connects for a base hit against Frontier last week in South Deerfield. Staff FILE Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 6/16/2021 9:11:40 PM

For the fourth consecutive spring tournament, the Turners Falls softball team earned the top seed in the Western Mass. Div. 3 postseason. 

Following an unbeaten 13-0 campaign, the Thunder earned the lone bye in the Div. 3 field as brackets were released by the MIAA on Wednesday. Turners will await the winner of Friday’s game between No. 8 Ware and No. 9 Westfield Tech. That quarterfinal matchup will take place at the Bourdeau Fields Complex in Turners Monday night at 7 p.m.

“We’ll take it,” Turners coach Gary Mullins said. “I don’t care much about the seeds. You have to beat the good teams eventually. If you’re not playing good softball now, you won't go anywhere. I think we have a good softball team that can do well in the tournament.”

Unlike past years, teams were seeded strictly by winning percentage this spring. Any team was able to enter into the tournament regardless of record, which is why some sub .500 teams are in this spring’s tournament field. The higher seed will host each game throughout, with no neutral sites expected to be used. 

“I’ve been doing this long enough to have a good feel for the different programs but it would be much tougher for new coaches,” Mullins said. “The Walker System is a better way to properly rate teams. With it being done strictly by winning percentage, you might be fooled by some upsets that probably aren’t really upsets.”

Franklin Tech secured the No. 2 seed in the Div. 3 field after going 14-2 in the regular season. The Eagles will host winless Granby (0-13) on Friday in the opening round, with first pitch set for 4 p.m. in the Powertown.

Joining Turners and Tech in the Div. 3 field are Mohawk Trail and Pioneer. The Warriors (4-10) earned the No. 12 seed and a trip to Huntington to take on No. 5 Gateway (7-3) on Friday, while the Panthers (3-10) are seeded No. 13 and travel to play at No. 4 Hopkins Academy (9-2) on Friday in Hadley.

Three Recorder area teams will compete in the Div. 3 field. Greenfield — which finished the season 9-2 with its lone two losses at the hands of Turners — earned the No. 6 seed and will host No. 11 Monument Mountain (6-6) on Friday at Vets Field (6 p.m.). 

If the Green Wave were to advance, it could set up a potential revenge game against No. 3 Wahconah (12-1), which knocked Greenfield out of the tournament in 2019. 

Seeded just below the Green Wave is Athol, as its 9-3 record landed the No. 7 seed. The Bears will host No. 10 Taconic (7-6) in the opening round on Friday at 4 p.m.

In with the No. 12 seed is Frontier, which travels to play at No. 5 Easthampton in the opening round on Friday at Nonotuck Park (4:30 p.m.). The two teams met in the quarterfinals the last time the tournament was played in 2019, with the Redhawks pulling off a 4-3 road win.

Baseball

The Frontier baseball team has been waiting two years to put together another tournament run.

Seeded No. 3 in the Div. 3 field after a 10-2 regular season, the Redhawks will host a familiar opponent in the first round in fellow Hampshire League East foe South Hadley. 

The two squads squared off twice this season with Frontier winning both matchups, the first by an 11-0 margin and the second by a 5-3 score. The Tigers enter the tournament as the No. 14 seed with a 4-7 record. First pitch takes place Monday at 4 p.m. in South Deerfield.

“We know them pretty well,” Redhawks coach Chris Williams said of the Tigers. “I’ve been telling the guys it’s tough to beat a team three times. We can’t take them lightly and look forward to the next round, we have to focus and take care of business.”

It’s certainly tempting for Frontier fans to look ahead, with a potential matchup against No. 11 Wahconah looming in the quarterfinals. If the Redhawks can get past South Hadley and the Warriors top No. 6 Southwick it would create a rematch of the 2019 semifinals, one in which Frontier lost, 9-8, at UMass.

“With the seeding done by record, there are a lot of talented Berkshire schools lurking in the shadows,” Williams said. “Berkshire County baseball has a lot of really good teams so their records are deceptive. We have to take care of business ourselves but we’re definitely rooting for Wahconah because we still have that salty taste in our mouths from 2019.” 

With an ace on the mound in Tyler Baranowski and a deep lineup of hitters, the Redhawks are prepped to make a run.

”We know that on any given day we can compete with anyone,” Williams said. “This week these guys have been super motivated at practice. That’s tough with the senior class, they’re out of school and we’re trying to rally them each day to play for a school that’s in their past. We’re super fortunate to have the leaders that we do who are just as invested, if not more, than everyone else. That’ll give us an advantage in this tournament.” 

Following a 1-4 start to the season, Greenfield turned things around to earn the No. 10 seed with a 7-6 record. The Green Wave are peaking at the right time, entering the tournament winners of five of their last six games. 

In its first round matchup, Greenfield travels to Williamstown hoping to pull off the upset against No. 7 Mount Greylock (9-5) on Monday at 4 p.m.

Like Frontier, Athol is playing an opponent it’s already seen this season. The No. 13 Bears (5-8) go on the road to take on No. 4 Easthampton (9-3) in the first round, a squad they saw twice during the regular season. Athol is hoping for better results this time around, having fallen to the Eagles 19-0 and 13-1 in the two meetings this season. 

Mahar and Mohawk Trail are the final two seeds in the Div. 3 field, both playing in the preliminary round of the tournament on Friday.

The No. 17 Senators go on the road to take on No. 16 Hampshire at 4 p.m. on Friday, with the winner advancing to meet No. 1 Sci-Tech on Monday. The Warriors are the No. 18 seed and take on No. 15 Palmer on Friday, with the winner earning a trip to play at No. 2 Taconic on Monday. 

In the Div. 4 field, an impressive regular season placed Pioneer as the No. 7 seed. 

The Panthers (7-4) host No. 10 Mount Everett (6-7) in the first round on Friday at 4 p.m in Northfield. The winner moves on to play No. 2 Hopkins Academy, the defending champs, in the quarterfinals on Monday.

No. 8 Franklin Tech has a chance to avenge an independent loss in its first round matchup. The Eagles host No. 9 Smith Academy on Friday at 4 p.m. The Falcons won the regular season contest, 4-1. The winner of Tech and Smith moves on to play No. 1 Granby on Monday. 

Boys volleyball 

It’s been a roller coaster of a season for a young Athol boys volleyball squad, which hit its stride midway through the year winning four-of-five matches, but closed with a pair of losses to finish with a 6-6 record.

The Bears enter the tournament as the No. 11 seed in the West bracket, and will take on No. 6 Sabis in Springfield on Friday at 4 p.m.. 

The host Bulldogs went 8-4 during the regular season

Girls tennis

Two Recorder area teams entered into the Div. 3 girls tennis tournament, with Frontier earning the No. 5 seed.

The Redhawks had an impressive regular season campaign in the Tri-County North League, going 6-2. They’ll face No. 4 Lee (5-1) on the road in the quarterfinals on Friday. 

Turners Falls is the No. 10 seed in the bracket, playing a first round matchup with No. 7 Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School on Friday. Though PVCICS (4-4) is the higher seed, due to a court issue the Thunder (1-7) will be hosting the match at 3 p.m.


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