Monson Tops Hoosac Valley in Extra Innings
AMHERST, Mass. -- You might say it was a heart-breaking way to end the Hoosac Valley softball team's season.
But these Hurricanes have too much heart for that.
A team that on paper was too young to compete and in reality started the season 4-4 showed nothing but heart in battling its way to the Western Massachusetts Division 3 semi-finals.
And that heart was front and center in a 2-1, extra innings loss to top-seeded Monson on Wednesday afternoon at the University of Massachusetts' Sortino Field.
Monson (18-3) pushed across the winning run on a groundout to first base to end a taut, well-played contest and earn a berth in Saturday's sectional final against No. 2 Turners Falls, a 4-0 winner over Mount Everett on Wednesday.
The winning rally started with the Hurricanes' second error of the day. And after Kali Puppolo got the next hitter to line out to center fielder Abby Jamros, Monson's Madison DiSanti singled to left.
A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position with one out, but Puppolo nearly got out of the jam with a ground ball down the first base line.
Sienna Witherall scooped it and applied the tag. Then she threw home, and for a moment, Hoosac had the lead runner hung up between third and home.
But Emily Garon was able to slide safely into the plate. Hoosac catcher Brooke Jamros couldn't handle the throw, but it wouldn't have mattered because Garon would have beaten the tag.
And for only the second time in its last 11 games, Hoosac came out on the short end of the scoreboard.
"Fantastic team," first-year Hoosac coach Mike Ameen said. "What more can you ask of them. It was a great game.
"That was the best I've ever seen [Puppolo] pitch. I thought the last game was her best, but today she was even better."
Puppolo limited the tournament's top seed to seven hits while striking out eight and walking just one.
"She hit her spots today," Ameen said. "When she threw a ball, it was because I was calling for a ball. She had them off balance all day."
Monson scored the game's first run in the bottom of the fourth.
A bunt single by Garon led to a sacrifice bunt, and a pitch in the dirt allowed Garon to go to third. Zoe Chevrette plated her with a basehit to left-center.
Monson then got another hit to put two on with two out, but Alyssa Pause ended the rally by charging in from left to make a sliding cath on a line drivefr the final out.
Moments later, Hoosac tied the game when Brooke Jamros crushed an 0-1 pitch over the wall in left for a leadoff home run to make it 1-1.
"It's always hard when you fall behind in a close game," Puppolo said. "We knew we were still in it, but when she hit that, we were just ecstatic."
Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, it was the only big hit they were able to come up with.
Clutch hits eluded Hoosac Valley (14-7), which left the bases loaded in the first inning and runners at second and third in the top of the eighth.
"I was nervous after the first inning," Ameen said. "But I wasn't after I saw how we played defensively and the way Kali threw. They were just lights out."
The entire Hoosac lineup returns next spring, including Puppolo, who will be just a junior.
"I can't say enough about this team," Ameen said. "They're two juniors, sophomores, freshman, eighth-graders that played their hearts out. They got the No. 1 seed in Western Mass and went toe-to-toe with them, just battling back and forth."