Class C softball: MacKenzie Paulin tosses no-hitter, top-seeded Greenfield blanks McCann Tech 6-0 for spot in title game (PHOTOS)

Greenfield pitcher MacKenzie Paulin throws against McCann Tech in the top of the sixth inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield.

Greenfield pitcher MacKenzie Paulin throws against McCann Tech in the top of the sixth inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Greenfield pitcher MacKenzie Paulin throws against McCann Tech in the top of the seventh inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield.

Greenfield pitcher MacKenzie Paulin throws against McCann Tech in the top of the seventh inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Greenfield pitcher MacKenzie Paulin throws against McCann Tech in the top of the seventh inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield.

Greenfield pitcher MacKenzie Paulin throws against McCann Tech in the top of the seventh inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Greenfield players Carly Blanchard, from left, Ivy Rae and Meghan Collins celebrate after their 6-0 win against McCann Tech at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield.

Greenfield players Carly Blanchard, from left, Ivy Rae and Meghan Collins celebrate after their 6-0 win against McCann Tech at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Greenfield’s Sophia Rotkeiwicz (14) hits an RBI single against McCann Tech in the bottom of the fifth inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield.

Greenfield’s Sophia Rotkeiwicz (14) hits an RBI single against McCann Tech in the bottom of the fifth inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Greenfield’s Carly Blanchard (7), right, celebrates after scoring with Bianca Reynolds (12) against McCann Tech in the bottom of the fifth inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield.

Greenfield’s Carly Blanchard (7), right, celebrates after scoring with Bianca Reynolds (12) against McCann Tech in the bottom of the fifth inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Greenfield’s MacKenzie Paulin puts the ball in play against McCann Tech in the bottom of the sixth inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield.

Greenfield’s MacKenzie Paulin puts the ball in play against McCann Tech in the bottom of the sixth inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Greenfield shortstop Carly Blanchard reels in a casual fly ball for the final out against McCann Tech in the top of the seventh inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield.

Greenfield shortstop Carly Blanchard reels in a casual fly ball for the final out against McCann Tech in the top of the seventh inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Greenfield’s Madison Lemay bats against McCann Tech in the bottom of the sixth inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield.

Greenfield’s Madison Lemay bats against McCann Tech in the bottom of the sixth inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Greenfield players meet on the mound against McCann Tech in the top of the sixth inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield.

Greenfield players meet on the mound against McCann Tech in the top of the sixth inning at the Western Massachusetts Class C softball semifinals Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By GEORGE MILLER

For the Recorder

Published: 05-25-2024 5:36 PM

Modified: 05-26-2024 2:02 PM


GREENFIELD — Over the last handful of years, Greenfield has made Western Massachusetts softball championship games a familiar destination, and now a very familiar local foe awaits the Green Wave there.

MacKenzie Paulin buzzed through the McCann Tech lineup with a no-hitter and 16 strikeouts and the Wave jumped to an early 5-0 advantage before going on to blank the Hornets, 6-0, Saturday afternoon in the Western Mass. Class C semifinals at Veterans Memorial Field.

Top-seeded Greenfield improved to 19-1 and will now meet second-seeded Franklin Tech (18-2) for the Class C title Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Westfield State University. It's the Green Wave's fourth straight trip to the WMass final and the fifth in the last six WMass tournaments.

The teams squared off in the regular season May 9 in Greenfield, with the Wave edging the Eagles 1-0, and now face each other in the championship for the second time in three years. 

"We've got to practice hard and it'll definitely be a good game," said Paulin of Wednesday's rematch. "I'm really excited to play them again."

Only two batters for fourth-seeded McCann (11-5) reached base against Paulin, both in the top of the first inning, Miranda Ranzoni drew a leadoff walk and stole second as Paulin fanned the next two hitters, then hit Nora Kondel with a pitch to put runners at first and second. That was all the Hornets could manage as Paulin struck out Svea Lawson to get out of the early jam.

From that point, only five McCann batters put the ball in play against Paulin. Her day featured an "immaculate" second inning -- nine pitches to record three strikeouts -- and the first eight outs came by way of the strikeout. The Hornets then made contact four straight times, mustering a pair of pop-ups and a pair of groundouts.

Starting with the top of the fifth inning, the junior then struck out eight consecutive batters, leaving it up to McCann's Lawson to pop up to shortstop Carly Blanchard for the game's final out.

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"I felt really good out there today," said Paulin. "Ainslee (Flynn) does a good job behind the plate. She called a great game and she and I were working really well together, and she keeps me in the game.

"The strikeouts are nice and it's good to win those battles, but I knew my team had my back when I needed them to make plays. I just tried to keep myself up for the team, stay excited for them, and keep the energy up."

"She's been phenomenal all year," said Green Wave coach Ray Dodge of Paulin. "She seems to be getting better as we need her to get better. It's going to keep building for however long we play."

Flynn roped a one-out double in the Greenfield first and was stranded at third base, but the Green Wave got it right against McCann pitcher Lexi Lemanski in the home second. With one out, Ellis Benitez reached on an infield hit and Ivy Rae on a fielder's choice grounder when the Hornets couldn't make an out. Grace Laurie then grounded a single up the middle, bringing home Benitez, and went to second on the throw from the outfield while Rae took third. No. 9 hitter Meghan Collins followed with a similar hit past second base into short center, plating both Rae and Laurie to make it 3-0.

With Anna Bucala batting, Collins moved to second on a passed ball and stayed there as Bucala drew a walk, but Lemanski bore down to get the next two outs.

"We always like to see the bottom of our order hit and we like to get on the other team early," said Dodge. "The longer we let them think they have a chance, the harder they'll play. We like to take the fight out of them as quick as we can."

Gloria McDonald and Blanchard then began the Greenfield third with base hits and an infield error moved them along to second and third. Benitez's groundout to third scored McDonald and Blanchard crossed on Rae's base hit to right-center.

In the fifth, against Hornets reliever Emma Lemire, Blanchard led off with a ringing double to left-center. She moved up to third on a fielder's choice and scored the Wave's final run when a fly ball to left by Sophia Rotkiewicz was dropped for McCann's third error of the day.

"We know it comes down to whoever gets to the other pitcher the most, playing clean defense, that team's going to win," said Dodge, looking toward Wednesday's Class C final. "Both pitchers are going to show up. You've got to take advantage of every chance."

Local softball fans are reminded that tickets for the Western Mass. finals at Westfield State are available only through www.gofan.co .