Wahconah Makes Most of its Chances in Senior Night Win
DALTON, Mass. -- The Wahconah softball team Thursday scored five runs on just three hits to earn a regular season-ending win over Hoosac Valley at Pine Grove Park.
Wahconah got another masterful performance in the circle from Avery Vale-Cruz, who struck out 15 while allowing just one hit.
And her offense made the most of what little Hoosac hurler Madi Puppolo allowed.
Julia Trager was arguably Wahconah's most productive player on offense, and she went 0-for-2 on the night. But she laid down a sacrifice bunt, reached on an error, walked, stole two bases and scored two runs.
"You've got to take advantage when you get runners on base," Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said. "You've got to take advantage of that.
"I thought we did a good job all the way around. We had a couple of pinch runners come into the game and do a good job. Even Ella Quinto coming in as a pinch-hitter and taking the first pitch and driving it for a double. I thought we just had a good aggressive mindset today."
Wahconah (12-1) won its 12th straight game and tuned up for next week's Western Massachusetts tournament.
Hoosac Valley put the pressure on early with a two-out rally in the top of the first.
Puppolo worked a walk and stole second ahead of an RBI single from Rylie Bishop to make it 1-0.
Bishop went to second on a throw home and reached third on a pitch to the backstop, but Vale-Cruz stranded her there by getting the third out on a called third strike to end the threat.
Wahconah wasted no time erasing the early deficit.
Morgan Marauszwski led off the bottom of the first with an infield single and went to third when Trager bunted and reached on an error.
Wahconah then pulled off a double steal to bring Marauszwski home to tie the game. Trager then stole third and came home on an overthrow to give Wahconah the lead.
It stayed 2-1 through the middle innings as Vale-Cruz and Puppolo held both offenses at bay.
After combining for three runs in the first inning, the teams combined for two baserunners over the next 3-1/2 innings.
In the bottom of the fifth, Wahconah mounted a two-out rally of its own.
Trager got it started with a walk and moved into scoring position on a single by Casey Wilson. Both came home on an outfield error that came off the bat of Kaylee O'Bryan to make it 4-1.
In the sixth, Quinto came off the bench to double, and pinch-runner Hannah Friedman scored when Emma Belcher reached on an error two batters later.
Puppolo struck out six and allowed just one earned run in taking the loss for Hoosac Valley.
Vale-Cruz improved to 9-1 on the season with 121 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched, an average of more than two Ks per inning.
"She's just a great competitor in the circle," Belcher said. "She just gets after it. I thought tonight was a good test, a good moment. Because we got down 1-0, and we had to show some character.
"You can say, 'It's just 1-0,' but against Puppolo, as a pitcher, it doesn't take a lot of runs. She's a great pitcher. I thought Avery did a good job bearing down and getting right back to work after they scored that run."