ADAMS, Mass. -- The Hoosac Valley softball team Monday set the tone early in its Western Massachusetts Division 2 quarter-final.
Visiting Sabis earned a seven-pitch walk to open the game, and the Bulldogs may have thought they could steal an early run against the third-seeded Hurricanes.
But Hoosac Valley catcher Rylie Bishop gunned down that leadoff runner attempting to steal second for the inning’s first out, and righfielder Kelsey Wohrle took away a single by firing to first in time to get the batter to end the inning.
Defense carried the day in the Hurricanes’ 4-0 win.
“I have full confidence in my defense because we work so hard in practice,” said Hoosac pitcher Madi Puppolo, who struck out five and allowed three hits in the complete game win. “And I know that during games, we step up and rise to the challenges we face.”
The stops kept on coming, especially from second baseman Abby Bird, who ranged to her left to snag an apparent single to end the third inning and started the seventh by chasing down a fly ball in foul territory.
“Abby Bird was phenomenal,” Hoosac Valley coach Mike Ameen said. “I gave her a game ball. She made three or four nice plays out there.
“And the right fielder throwing out the girl at first in the first inning, we were talking to her the whole year that we wanted her to do that, and she picked a good time.”
Hoosac Valley (17-4) took control of the game with three in the third inning.
It started with production from the bottom of the order, where Braman (3-for-3) led off by dropping a single into left and Lauren Faucher followed with a single to right.
After Sabis got an out on a fouled bunt, a passed ball allowed Braman to score. Leadoff hitter Syrah Bradley connected for an RBI single to left. She got second on an outfield error but was thrown out attempting to get to third while Faucher scored to make it 2-0.
Rylen Witek then started the offense up again by drawing a walk and stealing second. An errant throw on the steal attempt got her to third, and an errant throw to third allowed her to score on the play.
It stayed 3-0 until the bottom of the sixth.
That is when Puppolo led off by crushing a double to center field. She moved up on a groundout and scored on a Logan Stansfield sacrifice fly to provide the final margin of victory.
Hoosac Valley, which received a bye through the first round of the tournament, won after a nine-day layoff. Ameen said he did detect a bit of rust -- at least on one side of the ball.
“I think our lack of offense stems from, you know … in the last three weeks, we’ve played three games,” he said. “It’s hard to play a game and then sit for six days and then play a game and sit for seven. So, yeah, I’m not making any excuses. Sabis obviously played a good game, but I think a little bit of that was the layoff.”
There will be no such wait for the next game as the Hurricanes move on to Sortino Field at UMass-Amherst for a sectional semi-final on Thursday.
Last year, Hoosac Valley fell to county rival Wahconah in the final four of Division 2. And the Hurricanes are chomping at the bit to get back and go one step further this time around.
“I feel like we’re a tighter-knit team this year,” Puppolo said. “Like we’re move of a family and have more trust in each other.”