Hoosac Hopeful After Softball's Season Ends
ADAMS, Mass. -- The Hoosac Valley softball team came its 2014 season come to an end on Monday afternoon.
But the Hurricanes already have gotten a jump start on 2015.
The fourth-seeded Hurricanes dropped a 9-7 decision to Pathfinder in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 quarter-finals at Russell Field.
Hoosac finishes the year 13-7 and finished the year without its starting pitcher, senior Caroline Tomkowicz, who missed the last five games with an injury.
The 'Canes went 4-1 in that stretch with freshman Kali Puppolo in the circle. And after dealing with the death of a former teammate at the beginning of the season and a rash of injuries at the end, Hoosac showed a lot of character and gained a lot of experience for a squad that returns all but three starters next spring.
"The message to them is that they can overcome anything they want to," Hoosac coach Morgan Shafer said after meeting with her team in the outfield. "They need to believe in themselves and believe in that team-building they've done throughout the season and just keep it going for the years to come.
"We're so young. We've got the whole team coming back plus a couple more -- a bright, bright future, I feel."
One player who will not return in '15 provided the big offensive highlight for Hoosac on Monday.
Kassandra Kazimierczak drilled a grand slam home run into left-center to fuel a Hurricane comeback bid after fifth-seeded pathfinder (20-2) jumped out to an 8-0 lead.
Hoosac rallied in the bottom of the sixth, starting when Haley Adelt drew a one-out, six-pitch walk off Pathfinder's Jenna Maska (12 strikeouts). Gabby Vincent then reached on an error and both moved up a base on a wild pitch.
Alyssa Pause kept the inning alive by grounding to the left side and reaching first as the Pioneers opted to hold the lead runner in place. Sienna Witherell delivered a bases-loaded single to drive home Adelt and reload the bases.
After a strikeout, Kazimierczak pounded an 0-1 offering deep and chased the baserunners home to make it 8-5.
"It would have been nice to come earlier, but the rally came when we really needed it," Shafer said. "Bases loaded, senior captain coming to the plate, and she just knew she needed to get up there and get a hit. She relaxed, and she was just going for a basehit. But she ripped that ball, and it kept going and going."
The Pioneers got a run back in the top of the seventh when Arrianna Reilly (3-for-4) tripled to left to drive in a run and make it 9-5.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hoosac caught a break when Puppolo reached on an error, and Erin Girard drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Adelt bunted them up a base, and Vincent's groundout scored Puppolo, who was running for Puppolo. A passed ball scored Jasmyne Forrest, who came in to run for Girard.
But with no one on and two out, Maska got a called third strike to end the game, and Pathfinder moved on Wednesday's sectional semifinal against Mount Everett at the University of Massachusetts.
On Monday, Pathfinder built its early lead against Puppolo by taking advantage of Hoosac miscues in the field. Three of the five runs she allowed in the first two innings were unearned.
After the second, nagging soreness in Puppolo's arm forced her to move to left field, and sophomore catcher Erin Girard shed the tools of ignorance and went to the circle.
Despite allowing four runs over five innings, Girard showed the kind of spirit that Shafer hopes will continue to into next year.
"Erin, man, she is the person on this team to step up when we needed her to," Shafer said. "When Alyssa [Pause] got hurt, Erin said, 'I'll catch.' When we had Caroline go down and Kali got hurt, she said, 'I'll pitch.' Anything we need her to do, Erin's out there working hard.
"Very big leaders out there for being so young."