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Berkshire Force Splits Two at World Series

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires.com Sports
05:57PM / Friday, August 01, 2014
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Updated at 7:46 a.m. Saturday
 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The Berkshire Force 16-and-under softball team defeated Hoquiam, Wash., 8-2, on Friday night to finish pool play with a record of 3-1 at the Babe Ruth Softball World Series.
 
Although all 15 teams at the national tournament advance out of pool play and into the double-elimination bracket, the Force were highly motivated to finish the prelims on a winning note after dropping a 9-3 decision to Fern Creek, Ky., earlier in the day.
 
"A lot's at stake," Berkshire pitching coach Serena Stimpson said between games. "An 8:30/10:30 morning game is at stake. It's better coming in as a higher seed. The girls mentally are better as a higher seed. Coming in 2-2, they may not come in to fight."
 
Allison Hunt and Ashley Keegan each had two hits for Berkshire in Friday's nightcap; Hunt drove in five runs.
 
Julia Murphy struck out four to earn the win in the pitching circle for the Force, which finished with the second-best record in Pool B after dropping the Pacific Northwest regional champions to 2-2.
 
As of 7:40 this morning, the baberuthleague.org website was not updated with matchups and times for today, but according to the Force's Facebook page, the team plays at 10:30 a.m.
 
Fern Creek, Ky., 9, Berkshire 3
 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- After losing its first game of the Babe Ruth Softball World Series on Friday afternoon, the Berkshire Force could take heart in two things.
 
They will have another chance to wrap up a winning record in pool play. They may get another chance to play Fern Creek, Ky., the team that dealt the Force a 9-3 setback on Friday at Gerald S. Doyle Memorial Park.
 
The first is a certainty. Berkshire wraps up play in Pool B at 8:15 on Friday evening against Hoquiam, Wash.
 
The second is a possibility when the 15-team under-16 national championship shifts to a double-elimination tournament on Saturday morning.
 
Fern Creek is one of three unbeaten teams left in the tourney, and if Berkshire is successful in the knockout phase, there is every chance it will run into the Kentuckians again.
 
That would be just fine with Berkshire pitching coach Serena Stimpson.
 
"I would love to get another chance at them," Stimpson said. "We knew they were a great team coming in, and it's what we're used to playing. We just didn't come in to play.
 
"We'll see them again. We definitely will. I anticipate them being one of the top three teams. We'll see them again, and it will be a much different game."
 
Fern Creek out of the Ohio Valley region is 4-0 and can relax this evening while it gets ready for the double-elimination stage.
 
On Friday afternoon, Fern Creek was anything but relaxed after Berkshire rallied for three runs in the top of the sixth inning to erase a 3-0 deficit.
 
But Fern Creek rallied with six runs on five hits -- and a key Force error -- in the bottom of the sixth to put the game out of reach for pitcher Madison Williams, who struck out 12 in the win.
 
One reason the Force wants another chance for a better showing against Fern Creek: all nine of the Kentuckians' runs were unearned on Friday afternoon.
 
Berkshire committed four errors on the day behind pitcher Julia Murphy, who struck out four while allowing 10 hits.
 
"Julia is the kind of pitcher ... even if she's on fire, if she knows the defense is having a hard time, then she struggles in the circle," Stimpson said. "She tries to get strikeouts even though strikeouts aren't her thing. She puts the ball in play, and when she knows the defense is having a hard time, she tries to get strikeouts and it doesn't work in her favor."
 
Early on, it looked like Berkshire's defense was trying to do a little too much.
 
In the bottom of the third with a runner on second and one out, Fern Creek grounded out, but an attempt to throw from first to third to get the runner went wide, and the runner scored on the play to put Berkshire down, 1-0.
 
In the fourth with runners on first and second and one out, Berkshire fielded a sacrifice bunt but went to third base instead of taking the sure out. The throw was off line, and everyone was safe, loading the bases for Samuari Jones, whose line drive to the outfield was mishandled, allowing both runners to score and make it 3-0.
 
Fern Creek loaded the bases again with one out, but Berkshire's defense came up big to limit the damage.
Berkshire third baseman Kayla Kowalczyk fielded a ground ball and fired home to catcher Hayley Tobin, who relayed to Emily Koldys to complete a 5-2-3 double play.
 
"I truly think the double play is what started us up," Stimpson said. "We came in flat, and that double play pumped them up."
 
Two innings later, Berkshire pumped out three hits and three runs to get back in the game.
 
After Jillian Campbell and Tobin reached on an error and an infield single, respectively, Allison Hunt launched a 1-2 pitch into the left-center gap and raced around the bases for a three-run home run that tied the game.
 
In the bottom of the frame, a leadoff two-base error opened up a big hole for Fern Creek, which took advantage by batting around in a rally that saw three players, including Williams, double in runs.
 
More photos from this game to come.
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