NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- The McCann Tech has had one constant in year with a lot of changes.
And that constant -- the battery of Haley Malloy and Alanza Quinones -- has been a constant source of strength.
On Tuesday afternoon, visiting Easthampton used an error-plagued fifth inning to erase a 2-1 McCann lead and earn a 7-2 win that kept the Hornets from securing a berth in the Western Massachusetts tournament.
But even after watching McCann make numerous physical and mental mistakes in the decisive rally, coach Kate Galli was able to point to the rock that got the Hornets to nine wins with three regular-season games left starting Wednesday.
"[Malloy] is a trooper," Galli said. "She and Alanza are an amazing combination. I think Alanza keeps her in it a lot and keeps her loose and relaxed. She's just a workhorse for me. It's the second year in a row she's had to be in this position, and she just keeps coming out with a good attitude and keeps coming out and doing what she has to do.
"A lot of it her own self, but a lot of it is Alanza who keeps her there. They're a great combination -- a great two kids."
Malloy struck out six, walked one and gave up seven hits in Tuesday's loss.
The McCann defense made two physical errors behind her in the fifth, but they were compounded by a couple of plays when infielders had the ball in their glove but hesitated a split-second too long and allowed runners to advance.
But it was hard to lay too much of the blame at the foot of those infielders. That's because of the changes that have swirled around the rest of the McCann program this spring.
"We had a lot of people returning from injuries who just haven't played a lot lately," Galli said. "We haven't had time to jell there.
"I had two girls out here who haven't played in over three weeks -- two infielders. And [second baseman Allexia Andrews] came back from a concussion today. She's been out for 'just' a week."
Easthampton (14-3) took an early lead in the top of the second, cashing in on some bad luck for Malloy. Leadoff batter Jacquie Gomez hit a line drive that glanced off the glove of first baseman Jordan Owensby and caromed deep into foul territory down the right field line.
By the time the Hornets got the ball back in, Gomez was safely into third, and two batters later she scored on Gabby Downer's bunt.
McCann went ahead in the bottom of the fourth. After Caelin Mottor retired the first nine in order for the Eagles, Olivia Esoldi led off the fourth with a single up the middle. She went to second when Kayla Martin reached on an error and scored on Quinones' groundout to tie the game.
Jamie Meehan followed with an infield single to score Martin from third to put McCann ahead, 2-1.
Easthampton got five runs on four hits and a pair of errors in the fifth. The only hit that left the infield came off the bat of leadoff hitter Downer, who singled to left.
In the seventh, Easthampton tacked on a run with the help of two more McCann errors.
Easthampton coach Brian Miller, whose team beat McCann, 5-2, earlier this season, said he was more impressed by Malloy this time around.
"She's a pretty good pitcher, so that first inning we struggled," Miller said. "But once we started getting some bunts down and getting baserunners and creating movement out there, we were able to find some holes.
"I think [Malloy] had better control. I thought she had great control today. That was one thing we told our kids: 'Don't go up and wait around for a ball because they're not coming.' "