Everett Ends Best Season in 23 Years in State Semi-Final
AMHERST, Mass. — It's always hard to end your season on a loss. That's why after the Mount Everett softball team was defeated in extra innings 3-1 by the Assabet Valley Regional Tech Aztecs in the Massachusetts Division 3 state semi-final there were tears in many of the players' eyes. But despite not advancing to the state final, the Eagles had nothing to hang their heads about because just two days ago they had won the first Western Mass. championship for a girl's athletics team at Mount Everett Regional High School in 23 years.
"It's been 23 years since the girls won Western Mass., any girls program. So it brought the whole community together. When we got back to town the other day, the reception of fire trucks and police cars. It was fantastic," said head coach Kurt DeGrenier. "This was supposed to be icing on the cake and they need to be very proud of themselves."
Eagles' starting ace pitcher, Alicia Bazonski, was stellar but the Aztecs found a way to get some timely hits late in the game to steal the win away. In the top of the seventh inning, Assabet senior Morgan Parmeter lead off with a single and then stole second base. The next batter grounded out to the Mount Everett's first baseman but it moved Parmeter over to third base with just one out. The Aztecs' pitcher Madison Parmeter was up next and made it clear that she didn't want to take the loss in the circle, smacking a single up the middle with the Eagle's infield in to tie the game at 1-1.
After getting out of the inning, Bazonski wanted revenge for giving up the tying run as she lead off by ripping a single between the shortstop and third baseman. Eagle's sophomore third baseman Samantha Hoover came up next and grounded into a fielder's choice that forced Bazonski out at second, but Hoover was able to beat out the double play attempt at first. Pinch hitter, Hannah Joyce was able to advance her to third on a fielder's choice in the next at bat but freshman shortstop Emily Coon was unable to knock her in, sending the game to extra innings.
The top of the eighth saw more hits from the Assabet Valley as they stole a ton of momentum during the final inning of regulation. Senior second baseman Brittney Lutz was the key for the Aztecs, being aggressive and using a little bit of luck to advance herself to second on an infield single. After legging out her infield hit, Lutz just kept running right by first base and instead of out of play like most players are taught, she just kept going right towards second. Eagles' first baseman Natasha MacLeay at first base was taken off guard and was late with the throw to second, as Lutz slid in safely. Lutz feeling confident, proceeded to steal third base and the next batter singled to right field to score her, giving the Aztecs a 2-1 lead. Assabet would push another run across when their next batter doubled off of a scorching hit past the Everett's third baseman.
The Eagles came up in the bottom of the eighth with a chance to tie or win the game but despite all three of their batters driving balls into the outfield, they couldn't get any of them to drop. The Aztecs seemed to figure out Bazonski as the game crept on, using shorter swings to make contact with the hard-throwing Bazonski's pitches.
"We were winning in the seventh inning and they just found a way. They were doing that short little choppy swing stuff and Alicia (Bazonski) provides a lot of the power. They finally got to us and you have to give them all the credit," said coach DeGrenier.
The Eagle's took the lead in the seventh after junior second baseman Brooke Morehouse knocked a double to center after going down in the count 0-2. Senior center fielder Haley Finn moved Morehouse over to third base on a ground out to the pitcher and then with two outs and two strikes, freshman catcher Morgan DeGrenier legged out a slow roller past the pitcher to score Morehouse.
From there the Eagles played exceptional defense only allowing one base runner until the seventh inning. Junior first baseman MacLeay played her position flawlessly for Mount Everett, recording eight of her teams' outs by fielding multiple hard grounders. Bazonski pitched a great game for her team going eight innings giving up seven hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. Before the seventh and eighth innings, she had given up just two hits all game and got ahead of 17 of the 18 batters she faced by throwing a first pitch strike.
Mount Everett's Division 3 Western Mass victory and their hard fought state semi-final game is not something that looks to be another 23 years away either. The team is still young as seven of the starters are underclassmen including two freshmen, a sophomore, and an eighth grader. "We've got the entire infield returning and we've got the reserves that I've been swapping in and out all year long. So we're going to be good next year and we got to build off this," Coach Degrenier said. "I couldn't ask for a better bunch of girls and especially the seniors. They came together. They brought the team together. They were fantastic all year long and I'm going to miss them." The Eagles lose four seniors from this year's team that include Taylor Garrett, Haley Finn, India Ward, and Alexandra Hoover.
I asked Bazonski at the end of the game if she still felt like the season was a success though they ended on a loss and she told me "Yea, I think so and the fact that we only had four seniors. We'll miss them but we're going to be okay. Everyone says this is just a dry run."
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