West Boylston Ends Hoosac Valley's Playoff Run
WEST BOYLSTON, Mass. – The Hoosac Valley softball team Friday had as many hits as its opponent in the Division 5 State Tournament Quarter-Finals.
Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, the game was decided in other areas.
Hoosac Valley committed three errors that led to three unearned runs, and West Boylston turned three double plays en route to a 4-0 win and a trip to the state’s Final Four.
“We put the ball in play,” Hoosac Valley coach Mike Ameen said. “We just made some base-running mistakes, and we couldn’t bunt. It comes down to bunting. I’ve told them a hundred million times, at least – and I’m not exaggerating, maybe 200 million – you’ve got to get the bunt down.
“I’ve coached a long time. When good teams play, it comes down to execution of certain plays, and the bunting game is a huge part of it. That team executed their bunts and executed on defense, and the pitcher didn’t walk anybody. That’s a recipe for success.”
Peyton Maloney struck out seven, walked none and – thanks in large part to those double plays – faced just one batter over the minimum in a complete-game win for the Lions.
Hoosac Valley had leadoff singles by Izabella Tart in the second and Rylynn Witek in the fourth erased when the next batter popped up her bunt attempt to produce a double play.
In the top of the seventh, with Hoosac Valley still battling, Gracelynn Wright reached on a one-out infield single to the left side. But Maloney got the next hitter to ground out to second for a 4-3 double play to end the game.
The only base-runner Maloney stranded was Hannah Lord, who was the only Hoosac Valley player to reach second base after dropping a one-out single into right field and moving up on a passed ball in the fifth.
Maloney got the next hitter to strikeout and ended the inning on an infield fly.
West Boylston, meanwhile, scratched out the only runs it needed in the bottom of the second.
An infield error allowed the leadoff hitter to reach, and she moved up on a successful sacrifice bunt. After the next batter was hit by a pitch, a steal of third and an errant throw allowed a runner to score and another to get to third, where she scored on a pitch to the backstop.
In the third, the Lions added to their lead when Maddie Petro hit a one-out single and went to third on the play due to an error in the outfield. She scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 3-0.
In the fourth, West Boylston got its only earned run off Hoosac Valley ace Witek.
Riley Eagan led off with a double, went to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on another groundball out to make it 4-0.
Witek was the hard-luck loser despite striking out seven in six innings of work. Fittingly, she struck out the side in her final inning in a Hoosac Valley uniform.
Ameen could not find the words to sum up the senior’s impact on the program, so he let the numbers do the work.
“I can’t say enough about Rylynn Witek,” he said. “I did her stats the other day. She had 275 strikeouts, like 50 walks. She gave up like 60 hits. Her [walks plus hits per innings pitched] was like 1.6 or something. We’re here because of Rylynn. And that’s not including all her offense. That’s just pitching. Two hundred, seventy-five strikeouts in one season. I tip my cap to her.
“She’s going to Framingham [State], I think. They’re getting a diamond – not even in the rough. They’re getting a diamond.”
While Witek is moving on and moving east, the majority of the Hurricanes' roster will be around for a couple more years or more – a fact that gives Ameen a lot of confidence going forward.
“We’re losing Rylynn, obviously, but these other kids are coming back,” he said. “They’ve been through the grind. They’ve had success. They understand what real softball is about and not just their house league. We’re talking about kids who came from house league teams – South Adams Savings Bank – and now they’re here playing in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. It was a huge jump for them, and every single one of them handled it well, with maturity and effort.
“And I can’t wait to get them back, to be honest with you.”