WMass Div. 2 softball: Red Hawks run ends in final

  • Frontier girls softball players wave out the window of the school bus as they return back to the school escorted by a procession of emergency vehicles in South Deerfield after competing in the WMass Division 2 softball championship Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier players cheer from the dugout with their rally caps on in the top of the seventh inning against Hampshire Regional during the WMass Division 2 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier pitcher Olivia Deane throws against Hampshire Regional in the bottom of the fifth inning during the WMass Division 2 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Lily Spencer hits a single against Hampshire Regional in the top of the fifth inning during the WMass Division 2 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Deane knocks in a run against Hampshire Regional in the top of the third inning during the WMass Division 2 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier catcher Lily Spencer tags out Hampshire Regional baserunner Briana Sulikowski in a cloud of dust at home plate in the bottom of the third inning during the WMass Division 2 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier captains and coaches accept the finalist trophy after competing in the WMass Division 2 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier first baseman Madison Fifield stretches for an out against Hampshire Regional in the bottom of the second inning during the WMass Division 2 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier pitcher Olivia Deane throws against Hampshire Regional in the bottom of the first inning during the WMass Division 2 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Olivia Vecellio lays down a bunt against Hampshire Regional in the top of the third inning during the WMass Division 2 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier third baseman Charlotte Doulette throws to first after fielding a grounder from Hampshire Regional in the bottom of the second inning during the WMass Division 2 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 6/16/2019 4:17:43 PM

AMHERST — With the run it was on, the Frontier Regional School softball team thought there wasn’t a pitcher in western Massachusetts it couldn’t beat.

Then the Red Hawks ran into Hampshire Regional High School eighth-grader Jocelyn Mettey in the WMass Division 2 final on Saturday. Mettey limited their offense, which averaged 12 runs in three tournament games entering the final, to a single run on five hits, and the top-seeded Red Raiders prevailed, 7-1, at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

“Our offense has been killer the past couple weeks. We thought there was no pitcher that could throw at us that we couldn’t take,” Frontier senior Ariana Walker said. “It was a good run.”

Frontier was playing in its first sectional final since 2014. The seventh-seeded Red Hawks (16-8) upset the tournament’s No. 2 seed Easthampton in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Hoosac Valley in the semifinals.

“We gave it our all with no pressure because we’re the underdogs,” Frontier sophomore Olivia Deane said.

But the No. 1 seed proved too tall of a task. The Raiders (18-5) scored five runs in the bottom of the second inning on three errors. Bri Sulikowski opened the proceedings with a one-out single, then Brooke Kavanaugh laid down a bunt to try and push her to second. The throw sailed over the first baseman’s head into right field, bringing Sulikowski around to score. The right fielder made another throwing error, and Kavanaugh kept running, eventually touching home.

“Once I realized the ball was still all over the place, I just went for it,” Kavanaugh said. “It was pretty awesome.”

Emma Czarnieki struck out, but leadoff hater Katelyn Baker laced a two-out double behind her. Maggie Rubeck walked, and Baker took third while she was on her way to first. Hannah Wodecki put the ball in play, and another throwing error allowed two more runs to score, sinking Frontier into a 4-0 deficit.

“Usually our defense is really tight, but today our defense fell apart for that inning,” Deane said of the bottom of the second.

Mettey delivered an RBI single to push Hampshire’s lead to 5-0 before a Hannah Marney groundout ended the inning.

“When we don’t play our game, we don’t play like ourselves, then we don’t win,” Frontier coach Gary Deane said. “We’re a seven seed. We haven’t played like a seven seed in this tournament, but today we did.”

Frontier’s offense threatened dangerously in the bottom of the third. Macy Ring was hit by a pitch with one out, then Olivia Vecellio laid down a bunt single. A Lily Spencer single loaded the bases, bringing up Olivia Deane. She poked the ball over a leaping Maggie Rubeck at shortstop to cut the Red Hawks’ deficit to 5-1.

“I’ve been really working on my mental game at bat. I like being up in the count, and when I’m up in the count, I swing hard,” Olivia Deane said. “I wanted a really hard swing, line drive, and it worked.”

There was still just one out, and Frontier wanted to do more damage. But Mettey closed the door after a fielder’s choice resulted in an out at home and a strikeout ended the inning.

“Her poise is tremendous. It’s tremendous a kid of that age group battling with seniors,” Hampshire coach Brian McGan said of his eighth-grader in the circle. “You go out and talk to her and she gives me the ball and says ‘Let’s keep going.’”

Hampshire tacked on another run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third and made it 7-1 after an error in the fourth.

“It just wasn’t our day,” Walker said.

Walker and Caroline Moreau are the only seniors on Frontier’s roster. While this year’s trip to the sectional final was a surprise for a young Red Hawks team, future ones won’t be.

“We have a lot of passionate young women who are coming back, and I think we’re all hyped up to be here this year, but next year there’s a lot of potential for us,” Olivia Deane said.

Hampshire advanced to play central Mass. champion Hudson High School in the MIAA semifinals, Wednesday at 4 p.m. back at UMass.


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