GRAFTON, Mass. -- The Berkshire Force 10-and-under softball team proved to be the best team out of 11 at the Grafton Invitational over the weekend, beating the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds en route to the championship.
After finishing 2-1 in pool play, the Force entered the tournament as the fifth seed. Behind a dominant two-hitter from starting pitcher Mia Arpante, they beat the fourth seed Grafton Diamonds, 11-0, in quarter-finals.
In the semi-finals, Amanda Pou mowed down the No. 1 seed Northeast Hurricanes, allowing one run on no hits and 12 strikeouts in seven innings as the Force won, 3-1.
The Force scored its first run against the Hurricanes when Michaela Hinckley raced home on passed ball. Taryn Bannon's long at-bat allowed for the run and she eventually singled. Later the game, Caroline Sherman's double to left scored Natalie Arnhold who had recorded one of her several hits of the weekend. The scoring completed on Ja'Leah Rosa's RBI groundout, plating Audrina Maloney from third.
In the finals, the Force stayed tied or ahead the entire game behind more strong pitching from Arpante and Pou and tremendous defense. Second basemen Cheyann Goddard made a diving play to her right and threw the runner out from her knees to end a rally in the fifth to keep the Force up 6-3 at the time. In the bottom of the sixth, catcher Bella MacDonald and first basemen Hinckley executed a 2-3-2 double play on dropped third strike to keep the Force up, 7-6.
With the score tied 7-7 in the top of the seventh Pou walked, stole second, and went to third on a wild pitch. Arnhold returned to the lineup with bruised wrist from an earlier hit by pitch and continued her great weekend of hitting singling home Pou.
Pou closed out the championship with a 3-2 strike out with a runner on third thanks to tremendous backstop work by MacDonald.
This is the team's second tournament win of the year after coming out on top in Greenfield in May. The tournament games were back to back-to-back in 90-degree heat and the team left everything they had on the field and demonstrated a total team effort with the heart of a champion.
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