Devils Blow by Warriors, Advance to WMass. Final

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AMHERST, Mass. — What a difference a game makes. 

Starter Becca Grunow and the Wahconah softball team played a near-perfect game in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Mount Greylock in the quarterfinals of the Division 2 Western Mass. tournament. Grunow allowed just five hits and zero walks, trusting her defense to make the plays against a talented Mounties' lineup. 

The fifth-seeded Warriors were hoping that same formula for success would translate over to Friday's semifinal game against eighth-seeded Drury. 

It didn't. 

The Blue Devils took a more deliberate, patient approach at the plate and found the holes in the Wahconah's defense all game long. Drury scratched out 22 hits overall on its way to a runaway 13-2 win at the UMass Softball Complex in Amherst. Mary Ann Maroni's club now moves on to Saturday's sectional final against second-seeded Hampshire. The game will be held at UMass again with the first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. 

The Warriors (15-8) looked good early on, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a deep shot to center field by shortstop Gabby Lavinio. The Devils (15-6) should have held her to a triple, but the outfielder's throw missed the cut-off, allowing Lavinio to score from third. The Warriors held that one-run lead until the top of the fourth, when Drury got on the board with three runs of its own. The Blue Devils broke the game open from there, scoring six runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth. 

"Although we had four hits in the first three innings, we couldn't put anything together, and we recorded eight groundouts," Maroni said. "We made Lavinio look great, as the majority of the hits were to her. We never looked back after scoring in the fourth, though, and the only worry we had was that our half innings were so long that we might run out of daylight. 

"Who would have thought that each and every starter would have at least one hit. Hopefully, we will have some of our firepower left against Hampshire." 

Sophomore Amber Iacuessa got things started for Drury with an RBI double to deep center field in the fourth inning. One inning later, the Blue Devils exploded for six runs on seven hits. Drury smacked five singles and used a double by junior Katie Hancock to chase Grunow from the game. In three meetings against Wahconah this year, Maroni's club went 2-1 and scored 11 runs per game. 

All of the offense Drury mustered helped it overcome a poor showing on the defensive end. The Devils made eight errors on the day, but starter Cat Record stayed away from the big hits. Maroni said she opted to intentionally walk Warriors slugger Bizzy King in both the first and fifth innings. This decision came after Maroni watched King go 3 for 4 with a double and a two-run homer against Greylock on Wednesday. 

Record worked her way around the eight errors to pick her up 15th win of the year. She allowed just two unearned runs on four hits, striking out five and walking five. 

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