Turners Falls Tops Mount Everett to Continue Dominance in Western Mass Tourney
AMHERST, Mass. -- At 10:34 Saturday morning, the announcement was made at the University of Massachusetts' Sortino Field: "Turners Falls, the field is yours."
It was only meant to indicate it was time to start warm-ups for the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Championship Game.
But Turners Falls' players proved once again that this field does belong to them.
The top-seeded defending champions pounded out 15 hits and cashed in on seven Mount Everett errors to earn a 15-1 win and a berth in Tuesday's state semi-finals -- back at Sortino.
No one except UMass itself has been more lights-out on the Amherst campus. Turners Falls has won 13 Western Mass titles in 14 years, including the last four when it added Saturday's to its collection.
The second-seeded Eagles (21-3) committed five errors in the bottom of the third to help Turners score 10 runs and take an 11-1 lead, effectively ending the game early.
"It's like hitting -- hitting is contagious and errors are contagious," Mount Everett coach Kurt DeGrenier said of the way the miscues piled up in the third.
But his main focus Saturday afternoon was not on how the season ended but on how the Eagles extended it as far as they did.
"I couldn't be prouder of the girls," he said. "With everything they've endured over the year with the injuries, I couldn't be prouder.
"Everything they've gone through for the whole year and having four different girls stepping up and playing positions they've never played before and stepping into the lineup, they've done wonderfully. I couldn't be prouder of them."
And for 2-1/2 innings, it looked like the Eagles would be able to hang with the eight-time state champions from up the road in Montague.
Turners Falls scored to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Jordan Fiske doubled to left-center, and Aly Murphy raced around from first base. But Chandler DeGrenier got the next hitter to ground out to first base, ending the threat and stranding Fiske at second.
The Eagles then tied the game in the top of the third.
Jackie Derwitsch led off with a triple down the third base line and scored two batters later when Kersten Cutlip dropped a double just inside the line.
But Turners retook the lead with authority in the bottom of the frame. Maddy Johnson hit a two-run double among five Turners Falls hits that were matched by the five Mount Everett errors. When it was over, the defending champs were up by 10.
They tacked on four more runs in the sixth. Again, an error was the key. DeGrenier gave up an infield single to start the inning, but she struck out the next two and got the inning's fourth batter on what appeared to be a sure groundball out, but an error allowed that batter to reach, and the next four Turners Falls hitters reached as they extended the lead to 15-1.
For Kurt DeGrenier, Saturday's loss was particularly emotional as the Eagles saw the career of Chandler DeGrenier come to an end.
"This is my last daughter coming through," he said. "It's going to be hard to coach without her. She's been pitching since she was 5 for me.
"It's a special season. She put us on her back and got us to these finals, and I couldn't be prouder of her."