Powertown dynasty rolls on

  • Turners Falls captains celebrate their WMass Division 3 softball championship win over McCann Tech on Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • The Turners Falls softball team is all smiles after winning the WMass Division 3 championship over McCann Tech on Saturday at Sortino Field on the UMass campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls catcher Aly Murphy, front, and pitcher Jade Tyler celebrate their WMass Division 3 softball championship win over McCann Tech on Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls’ Catie Reynolds, left, and Cassidhe Wozniak celebrate their WMass Division 3 softball championship win over McCann Tech on Saturday at Sortino Field in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls second baseman Taylor Murphy flips the ball to first base for an out against McCann Tech in the top of the first inning during the WMass Division 3 softball championship Saturday at Sortino Field. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls baserunner Taylor Murphy slides safely into second base ahead of the tag from McCann Tech shortstop Hannah Stack in the bottom of the fifth inning during the WMass Division 3 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls baserunner Taryn Thayer, right, slides safely into home plate to score ahead of the tag from McCann Tech catcher Aubrey Tetlow in the bottom of the fifth inning during the WMass Division 3 softball championship Saturday at Sortino Field on the UMass campus in Amherst. Top-seeded Turners won its sixth straight Div. 3 crown, 4-0. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls pitcher Jade Tyler throws against McCann Tech catcher Aubrey Tetlow in the top of the third inning during the WMass Division 3 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls pitcher Jade Tyler throws against McCann Tech catcher Aubrey Tetlow in the top of the fifth inning during the WMass Division 3 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls’ Aly Murphy bats against McCann Tech during the WMass Division 3 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls pitcher Jade Tyler throws against McCann Tech catcher Aubrey Tetlow in the top of the seventh inning during the WMass Division 3 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls’ Cassidhe Wozniak bats against McCann Tech during the WMass Division 3 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls pitcher Jade Tyler throws against McCann Tech catcher Aubrey Tetlow in the top of the third inning, Saturday at Sortino Field. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls head coach Gary Mullins cheers on his team while playing against McCann Tech during the WMass Division 3 softball championship Saturday at Sortino field on the UMass Campus in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Turners Falls’ Hailey Bogusz hits a single against McCann Tech in the bottom of the fifth inning, Saturday at Sortino Field. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 6/15/2019 2:24:26 PM

AMHERST — The way morning batting practice went, all signs pointed toward a big run-producing offensive onslaught for the Turners Falls softball team on Saturday.

That didn’t happen.

The top-seeded Thunder were limited to just four hits, and the high-powered lineup left 10 runners on base in the WMass Division 3 championship game. Despite an admittedly frustrating performance however, the Powertown made more than enough plays to get the job done.

Sophomore pitcher Jade Tyler struck out 13 and allowed just two hits, lifting Turners to a 4-0 victory over No. 3 McCann Tech for the program’s sixth consecutive — and 21st all time — sectional title at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners (21-2) will play central Mass. champion Hopedale (19-2) for the third year in a row in the MIAA semifinals, set for Tuesday at 3 p.m. back at UMass.

“I think it’s a standard that our kids think they can play at. If they play below it, they’re disappointed. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s not poo-poo-ing any other team, but we can be a much better softball team than the way we played today,” Turners head coach Gary Mullins said afterward. “Our kids know, our train’s going to stop if we play like that again. And they have the goal to be the state champs. That’s our goal. Our kids work very hard. They’ve earned their position to be here. But now if they want the big rainbow, they better start picking it up and getting the big hit when they need to.”

It says a lot about the status of the Turners Falls program that winning a WMass title can still elicit a subdued reaction. When the standard is as high as it is, lackluster performances are disappointing. Tyler, who earned the Gary Stacy MVP Award for her work in the final, said her teammates are good at toeing the line between excitement and continued hunger to improve before the state tournament.

“It feels great. We worked really hard. We worked way too hard to lose, so this was our only option,” she said. “Western Mass. is just our starting point. We always want states, that’s our goal. If we do bad at WMass, there’s always something we can fix. We want to make the standard high for states.”

Mullins said the morning batting practice at the Bourdeau Fields Complex in Turners prior to the game gave him little indication his offense would struggle to get going against the Hornets (16-6).

“We had batting practice on our field this morning, and we hit 31 home runs over the fence,” began Mullins. “We were smashing it all over the park. But, the pitching was a little bit quicker. Now you come over here and it slowed down. Credit to their pitcher. She got very little support unfortunately, but she managed to get us out. We were just out in front, excited to play. But that enthusiasm to swing… how many balls did we hit foul, forty?”

If there was a formula available to unseat Turners from its perch atop the Division 3 landscape, McCann Tech did not adhere to that plan. The Hornets, which knocked off No. 2 Mount Everett in the semifinals to prevent a third consecutive Turners-Everett final, committed five errors, with three of the four Thunder runs going down as unearned. Pitcher Meg Goyette did manage to keep the Powertown off-balance, but she did issue eight walks in her outing.

“We do what we need to do to get runs,” offered Tyler. “We hit really well this morning. We were expecting to tee off against this team. We had some issues with spin. Her speed and spin was a little bit different for us.”

Turners pushed across the only run it would ultimately need in the bottom of the first inning. Tyler drew a two-out walk, and Aly Murphy followed with an RBI triple to the right-center field gap that plated courtesy runner Taryn Thayer with the day’s first tally – the only earned run allowed in the game.

It stayed that way until the fourth inning. Catie Reynolds drew another two-out walk for the Thunder, and pinch runner Paige Sulda stole second base. The throw sailed into center field however, and the ball then went through the legs of McCann center fielder Kiera Kupiec. Sulda kept on running, scampering all the way around to make it 2-0 on a play that began with her standing on first.

Turners tacked on two more unearned runs in the fifth to add some insurance. Taylor Murphy reached on an infield single and Tyler walked. A passed ball moved Murphy and courtesy runner Thayer up to second and third, setting up a play that more or less summed up the afternoon. With Aly Murphy at the plate, Goyette threw a wild pitch that allowed Taylor Murphy to storm home. McCann catcher Aubrey Tetlow ran to the backstop to find the ball, and quickly gunned it to the plate where Goyette was covering. The throw went awry however, and Thayer was able to run home behind Taylor Murphy all the way from second. The two runs doubled the advantage to 4-0, and put to rest any hopes of a Hornets rally.

“Some funny things happened and we were the benefactor of those runs. You feel bad for the pitcher,” Mullins said.

McCann managed just two hits on the day, both singles in the top of the sixth. Tyler worked around the jam, stranding runners at second and third thanks to a strikeout of Kalley Vanuni. The right-hander walked a pair and hit a batter in addition to her 13-strikeout performance.

“I did better as the game went along,” she offered. “I was a little bit nervous but I’ve already been here once so I knew what to do. I just wanted to stay calm and help my team.”

Mullins said that despite the double-digit strikeout performance, there are still better outings ahead for his ace.

“I keep saying she can get better. I know what she’s capable of doing,” the coach explained. “Jade always gives us a chance to win. She did it again today, she’ll do it again whenever we play next. She always gives us that chance.”

Hailey Bogusz had a hit and reached base twice for the Thunder, while Reynolds and Eliza Johnson each drew a pair of walks. Tyler was on base three times (two walks and a single).

The title marked six in a row for Turners, with the program’s last defeat in a WMass final coming in 2013 against Mt. Everett. McCann Tech fell to 1-2 all time in sectional finals.


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