Hampshire Holds On, Tops Wahconah in Final
AMHERST, Mass. -- It was a fourth inning missed opportunity for the third-seeded Wahconah Warriors softball team that lead to No. 1 Hampshire Regional clinching the Division 2 Western Massachusetts title with a 4-2 victory on University of Massachusetts' Sortino Field Saturday afternoon.
Going into the top of the fourth inning, Wahconah trailed Hampshire, 2-0, after the Hamp quickly plated two in the first inning.
Wahconah had the bases loaded with no outs when Ashley Zink stepped up to the plate. Zink connected with the ball, sending it to center field and driving in two runs to tie the game at two.
"I was going up there thinking I need to put it in play, runners in scoring position and just one hit would at least get one home and get the motivation going on our side," Zink said. "Our season was really good, we knew we could do it to come here, but we just didn't pull through in the end, but we had a good run."
Zink earned a single on her hit putting two one; first and third. She stole second putting two runners in scoring position with still no outs. The Warriors then went down in order with a strikeout and a pair of ground balls.
"That was our big opportunity we missed there for sure," Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said about their fourth inning at-bats. "I was happy, we gave up two runs and we were very sloppy that first inning. We regained our composure to get those two runs back. I do think if we had taken the lead there maybe there would be a different outcome, but sometimes it just doesn't work out that way."
Hampshire came out in the bottom of the inning and plated one on an Allie Borowsky wild pitch, putting them ahead 3-2.
The final run came in the fifth inning with an RBI double from Lilly Rubek.
Hampshire had a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth as did Wahconah with a Borowsky strikeout and two ground outs.
Going into the seventh inning, Wahconah trailed by two, but a groundout, a strikeout and a pop fly wrapped up Hampshire's second straight sectional title.
"We preached all year, nobody makes an easy out, you have to make it hard on them and battle at the plate" Belcher said. "It's a hard thing to do, be on a big stage like that down two runs seventh inning, but again you have to look at the big picture, it's more than just the seven innings we played today, to be 19-4 from where we started at the beginning of the season being mercy ruled to be here playing in the finals."
Hampshire pitcher Alexis Ferris pitched all seven innings, striking out seven and walking four. Borowsky pitched six for Wahconah, striking out three and walking one.
"Any time you're going to win a title you have to play clean defensively," Belcher said. "It's a lot to do with pitching and hitting, but at the end of the day the best defensive team usually wins at this level, so those three errors certainly hurt."
Wahconah is graduating four seniors for its 2015 squad; Belcher said he hopes it can build next season off of their 19-4 season they had this year.
"It was a really good season, next season this is going to help us a lot," Zink said. "We're looking to repeat what we're doing here, but hopefully pull through in the end."