Powertown wins 10th state crown! Turners Falls holds off Amesbury, 5-4, for Division 3 title

  • The Turners Falls softball team celebrates winning the MIAA Division 3 state title behind a 5-4 win over Amesbury on Thursday at Amesbury Middle School. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Turners Falls' Jade Tyler pitches against Amesbury in the MIAA Division 3 state finals in Amesbury Thursday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Turners Falls' Jade Tyler pitches against Amesbury in the MIAA Division 3 state finals in Amesbury Thursday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Turners Falls celebrates winning the Division 3 state title in Amesbury Thursday with coaches in background. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Turners Falls' Madison Liimatainen is safe at third with na RBI triple in the first inning against Amesbury in the Division 3 state final in Amesbury Thursday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Turners Falls' Madison Liimatainen smacks an RBI triple in the first inning against Amesbury in the Division 3 state final in Amesbury Thursday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Turners Falls' coach Gary Mullins vs Amesbury in the Division 3 State Finals Tournament in Amesbury Thursday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Turners Falls poses for a picture after winning the Division 3 state title in Amesbury Thursday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Turners Falls celebrates winning the Division 3 state title in Amesbury Thursday with winning pitcher Jade Tyler, center. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Amesbury pitcher Olivia DeLong pitches against Turners Falls in the Division 3 State Finals Tournament in Amesbury Thursday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 7/1/2021 7:38:25 PM

AMESBURY — After a three-year hiatus, the MIAA Division 3 state softball championship trophy is heading back to the Powertown.

Turners Falls rode a four-RBI performance from eighth-grader Madi Liimatainen and received a strong game at in the circle from Jade Tyler — who benefited from some great outfield catches — to defeat Amesbury, 5-4, in the state title game Thursday at Amesbury Middle School.

The win marks a remarkable 10th state title for the Turners Falls softball program. 

“It’s a crazy feeling,” Tyler said. “We’ve been working so hard and to finally see it come through is really exciting. I’m happy to say I’ve played my best and put it all out there.”

The Thunder (18-0) nearly controlled the game from start to finish. Turners led 2-1 after one inning and tallied a third run in the second to go up 3-1. 

That score held until the seventh inning, when Olivia Whittier walked and Holly Myers was hit by a pitch. With runners on first and second, Liimatainen cracked a double that nearly hit the fence. The rope scored both Whittier and Myers to add a pair of insurance runs, giving Turners a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the seventh. 

“Coach [Gary Mullins] told us we needed to get more runs and then three outs,” Liimatainen said. “We had two runs on, two outs, so I said, ‘let’s hit it again.’ Off the bat, I knew it was going pretty far. The fence is pretty far here, it might have been out (of the ballpark) at home.”

As it turned out, those insurance runs made all the difference in the world. Amesbury saved its best offensive stuff for its final at bat. 

Tyler stuck out Veronica Deacon to open the seventh before Lauren Celia got on with a single. Ella DeLisle flew out for the second out of the inning, but that’s when the top of the Amesbury order went to work. 

Ella Bezanson drew a walk to put runners on first and second for Amesbury No. 3 hitter Olivia DeLong, who’s solo home run represented the team’s lone run of the game to that point.

The junior drilled a double to right field that scored Celia and Bezanson and cut the deficit to 5-3. 

Still needing just one out to seal the win, Olivia Levasseur came to the plate and hit a ball to second, but an error by the Thunder allowed DeLong to score and make it a one-run game. Isabelle Levasseur then got on with a walk to put the potential game-winning run on first, but Tyler was able to strike out Alana DeLisle to close out a dramatic seventh inning. 

“We were hoping after the sixth we wouldn’t see the top of their order again,” Mullins said. “The DeLong girl can really swing but that’s not how it happened. They’re tough, they’re a great team and showed down the stretch how tough they can be. We played some pretty good softball. We had some incredible catches, we had some big hits. It was a great game.”

The clinching strikeout allowed Turners to finally take a deep breath and celebrate the championship. 

“I knew Jade was going to come up clutch,” Liimatainen said. “When there was two strikes on the last out, I kept thinking we just need one more. We didn’t come all this way to not win it. It was a perfect pitch. I saw strike three and jumped into her arms. It was an amazing feeling.”

A two-out rally got Turners going in the first inning. Juliana Rode started it with a single, followed by a base hit by Myers. 

Liimatainen came to the plate and cracked a triple that plated Rode and Myers to gave the Thunder a quick 2-0 lead.

“I was down in the count, there was two outs and two people on so I said to myself I just need to hit the ball,” Liimatainen said. “I’ve been working on hitting the ball up the middle and practice makes perfect. My heart was beating so fast.”

Despite just being an eighth grader, Liimatainen’s four-RBI performance in the biggest game of the year came as no surprise to Mullins. 

“She had a good batting practice this morning,” Mullins said. “I had a funny feeling she was going to come through big for us and she had some huge hits today.”

DeLong smacked a solo home run in the bottom of the first to make it a 2-1 game. The Thunder bats kept hitting Amesbury starter DeLisle in the second inning, with Taryn Thayer, Taylor Murphy and Whittier getting on with singles. Whittier’s scored Thayer to put Turners up, 3-1. 

Following the run, Amesbury put DeLong in to pitch, and she closed out the game with more success than DeLisle, giving up just three hits — one each to Whittier and Myers in the fifth and one to Thayer in the sixth — before the seventh inning rally by the Thunder. 

Tyler went the distance, striking out six batters and giving up just six hits. Each of the three players in the Thunder outfield — Olivia Stafford in left, Emily Young in center and Myers in right — came up with big catches to keep Amesbury from putting runs on the board. 

“I have to thank all my outfielders for playing well today,” Tyler said. “I can’t thank them enough.”

The state title is the first for Turners since 2017. The program lost in this round back in 2018 and 2019.

“I wanted to go 50/50 in state title games, two wins, two losses because that was the best possible outcome at this point,” Murphy, a senior, said. “Everyone helped pitch in for the win today.”




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